Fake compromise lets Iowa GOP save face on Planned Parenthood capitulation

The Iowa House and Senate adjourned for the year this evening. As usual, the health and human services budget was one of the last deals Senate Democrats and House Republicans agreed on. Both sides gave significant ground on oversight of Iowa’s recently-privatized Medicaid program; a future post will look more closely at the terms of that agreement. In another example of history repeating itself, key negotiators had trouble finding common ground on what to do about Planned Parenthood funding through the Iowa Family Planning Network.

The outcome of last year’s budget talks left little doubt that Republicans wouldn’t achieve their goal of creating a new state family planning program, excluding abortion providers. Yet House Speaker Linda Upmeyer had promised a “deliberate and unwavering battle” on “pro-life issues,” and specifically to make defunding Planned Parenthood a “priority” for her caucus.

I’ve been wondering what Democrats might offer Republicans in exchange for preserving status quo language on state funding for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services.

As it turned out, they didn’t have to make any real concession.

Lawmakers lingered at the capitol late into the evening on April 28, hoping a budget deal would allow them to finish their work for the year. Shortly after midnight, the Des Moines Register’s William Petroski and Brianne Pfannenstiel reported on the final stumbling blocks. To all appearances, House Republicans had given up on the defunding language in their human services budget, which you can read here. But according to Petroski and Pfannenstiel, GOP leaders were holding out hope for some significant change in funding for family planning services, which include tests for pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections as well as contraception advice and supplies.

Upmeyer said House Republicans have offered a compromise that would not defund Planned Parenthood but would provide additional health care options for Iowa women. Planned Parenthood could potentially obtain as much money as it is getting now, based on the services provided, she added.

I was curious about the details, which weren’t shared with statehouse reporters. They didn’t matter in the end, because shortly after noon on April 29, leaders confirmed they had struck a deal to leave Planned Parenthood funding intact.

Pfannenstiel and Petroski reported,

Iowa legislators have agreed to a budget deal that maintains current funding for Planned Parenthood in exchange for doubling a tax credit offsetting the cost of adoptions. […]

“We were kind of at an impasse last evening,” said Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Mount Pleasant. Both chambers went home late Thursday night after failing to reach agreement. “And so we looked and said look, what can we do? What would the Senate accept from us that does have something to do with preserving life?”

The deal – which was approved later in the day by both chambers – doubles the current tax exemption for adoptive parents from $2,500 to $5,000. Iowans could begin claiming the increased credit when they file their taxes in 2018.

Who’s against increasing the tax credit for adoptive parents? No pro-choice person I know. I’m thrilled Iowa parents who adopt kids will get a larger break on their tax return two years from now.

Whatever story Republicans need to tell themselves about getting something in exchange for leaving Planned Parenthood alone is fine by me.

Not everyone in the Iowa House GOP caucus embraced the compromise. Seven of the 57 Republicans voted against the conference committee report on House File 2460. I’ll add their names once today’s House Journal is available on the legislature’s website. Democratic State Representative Sharon Steckman provided the 51st vote for the human services budget.

In any event, Planned Parenthood’s state funding is safe for another year. But if Republicans maintain control of the Iowa House and win a Senate majority in this November’s elections, count on a new state family planning program next year, for which abortion providers will be ineligible. Governor Terry Branstad has indicated he supports that goal.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

You need to signin or signup to post a comment.