On the last day of the 2015 fiscal year, both houses of Congress passed a "clean" continuing resolution to fund the federal government through December 11. Conservative Republicans failed to add language ending all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The White House has said President Barack Obama would veto any continuing resolution that did not include funds for the health care provider.
Senate leaders gave up this fight for the time being after a September 24 cloture motion on a short-term spending bill that excluded Planned Parenthood fell well short of the 60 votes needed. Iowa's Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst both supported that bill, but it only gained 47 votes in favor.
Yesterday the U.S. Senate advanced a short-term continuing resolution without special language about Planned Parenthood. This time the cloture motion passed easily by 77 votes to 19 (roll call), with Grassley and Ernst both voting in favor. Today's vote on the continuing resolution itself was 78 to 20; again Grassley and Ernst supported the measure. In a conference call with Iowa reporters today, Grassley indicated that a partial government shutdown, as occurred in October 2013, would be costly: "We shouldn't do anything silly to add to the bad fiscal situation the federal government is in."
Of the senators who are running for president, Bernie Sanders voted for the continuing resolution. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz voted against it; Cruz fought a lonely battle yesterday "to add a one-year ban on federal funding for Planned Parenthood" to the resolution. Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham were on the campaign trail and missed these important votes.
Later this afternoon, the House approved the continuing resolution by 277 to 151 (roll call). All the Democrats present voted yes, including Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02). Iowa's House Republicans split with David Young (IA-03) joining 90 other GOP members in support of the resolution. Rod Blum (IA-01) and Steve King (IA-04) were among the 151 no votes. Earlier today, King had submitted four amendments to the continuing resolution in the House Rules Committee. In a statement I've enclosed in full below, King said his amendments would "restore Article I authority" to Congress by defunding Planned Parenthood, the Iran nuclear deal, President Obama's executive orders on deferring deportations for some immigrants brought to this country illegally, and the 2010 health care reform law. However, King did not manage to get his amendments added to the continuing resolution.
I've enclosed political reaction to today's votes after the jump and will update this post as needed with comments from other members of the Iowa delegation. Blum is spinning his vote against the resolution as a stand against "back room deals" and kicking the can down the road, as opposed to a vote for shutting down the government.
September 30 press release from Representative Rod Blum:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Representative Rod Blum issued the following statement on his vote against the continuing resolution:
"Today I voted no on the continuing resolution because I believe that short term, last minute funding measures that kick the can down the road are not the proper way to run our country. When regular order is abandoned in favor of back room deals the American people are not truly represented. No wonder nearly 70% of Americans think our country is headed in the wrong direction: career politicians from both sides of the aisle refuse to accept responsibility and do the job they were elected to do."
Representative Steve King press release before votes, September 30:
King Introduces Four Amendments to CR That Begin to Restore Article I Authority
Washington, D.C. - Congressman Steve King released the following statement after submitting four amendments to the Continuing Resolution (CR) in Rules Committee today:
"For months Members of the House have been saying we need to stand on principle," said King. "This is why I have introduced four amendments to the CR in Rules Committee today. My four amendments, simply put, will defund Planned Parenthood, the Iran nuclear deal, the President's amnesty - DACA and DAPA, and ObamaCare. If each of my amendments were passed we would restore much of our Article I authority in Congress. The American people are expecting leadership from the House of Representatives on the issues they care about the most. If we pass a clean CR we are only, once again, kicking the can down the road. Right now we are situated to actually fight to defund these items - and the American people are pleading with us to do so."
Iowa Democratic Party press release, September 30:
DES MOINES - IDP Chair Dr. Andy McGuire issued the following statement after GOP Congressmen Rod Blum and Steve King voted to shut down the government this afternoon:
"Today, Rod Blum and Steve King exposed the depths of their extremism by voting to shut down the government over federal funding for Planned Parenthood. As a doctor, I know how important the services provided by Planned Parenthood are to the health and well being of thousands of men and women across this state. It is astounding that Rod Blum and Steve King would move to shut down the government, all in a backwards effort to reduce Iowans' access to vital health care services.
"Iowans expect their elected representatives in Washington to solve problems, not create chaos and dysfunction by shutting down the government."
Press release from Senator Joni Ernst, September 30:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) released the following statement after voting in favor of a short-term continuing resolution (CR) through December 11, 2015:
"Like many Iowans, I'm tired of Washington's dangerous and shortsighted habit of governing from one emergency to the next. The American people deserve better which is why Congress passed a budget that balances, for the first time in over a decade. Congress must work together in an open and collaborative dialogue to find the best path forward in order to ensure the government runs efficiently and effectively.
"Prior to this vote, I supported a CR that would have placed a moratorium on Planned Parenthood funding for one year as congressional investigations seek answers over whether the organization is profiting from the selling of baby body parts. It would have protected women's health funding by redirecting those funds from Planned Parenthood to community health centers and other eligible entities. Although that measure did not pass, I remain committed to exposing Planned Parenthood's blatant disregard for human life and seeking answers to the many questions raised by the recent videos.
"In the meantime, we must pass this short-term spending bill and then turn our focus to a sustainable plan forward that builds a path toward fiscal solvency for our nation and preserves our national security to keep all Americans safe and protected."