Planned Parenthood and the Fate of Speaker Boehner

The controversy touched off by undercover videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue sales has thrown a monkey wrench into the efforts to pass government funding bills in the House. Last Friday (18 September 2015) the House voted 241 – 187 to defund Planned Parenthood. We use our Weekly Constant-Space DW-NOMINATE Scores to do the vote plots. The House vote to defund is shown below:

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Two Democrats, Lipinski (D-IL) and Peterson (D-MN), voted with the Republicans and three Republicans, Dent (R-PA), Dold (R-IL), and Hanna (R-NY), voted against defunding Planned Parenthood.

Earlier, the Senate failed to reach 60 votes for Cloture in an attempt to defund:

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The two Democrats who voted for Cloture are Donnelly (D-IN) and Manchin (D-WV). The two Republicans who voted against are Kirk (R-IL) and Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) who voted Nay so he could bring up the Cloture motion another time. McConnell’s “error” has the effect of pulling the cutting line away from Donnelly and Manchin just enough so that they are also “errors”.

There is absolutely no chance that Planned Parenthood will be defunded. Even if it passed it would be vetoed by President Obama. What is at stake is yet another government shutdown. Neither Speaker Boehner nor Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi want a government shutdown. The problem for Speaker Boehner is that a sizable bloc of Conservatives would rather have a shutdown than fund Planned Parenthood even though public opinion would blame the Republicans for the mess a shutdown would cause.

One casualty of this fight over Planned Parenthood could be Speaker Boehner. A number of Conservatives want to oust Boehner from the Speakership and replace him with a more hardline member. Below we show a hypothetical up or down vote on Speaker Boehner where we count 47 Republicans voting against him — all 42 members of the Freedom Caucus plus 5 non-members who voted against him for Speaker in January (note that newly sworn in Darin LaHood (R-IL) is not shown in the plot):

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Speaker Boehner’s fate is clearly in the hands of Democrats. If they all vote No then Boehner loses the Speakership. The problem is that a replacement is almost certainly not going to be one of the extreme Conservatives so the Republicans are back to square one. If the Democrats abstain then the Republican Caucus votes 199 – 47 for Boehner (Boehner abstains and LaHood votes Yes).

Regardless, it appears that another train wreck may be at hand in Washington, D.C..

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