By Terence P. Jeffrey
When Donald Trump stood in the lobby of Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 and announced he was running for president, he told all who listened to “mark” his words.
“I would do various things very quickly,” Trump said.
“I would repeal and replace the big lie, Obamacare,” he said.
“I will build a great, great wall on our southern border,” he said. “And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.
“Mark my words,” he said.
Fifteen months later — after he won the Republican nomination and less than two months before his general election showdown — Trump released a letter to pro-life leaders.
“As we head into the final stretch of the campaign, the help of leaders like you is essential to ensure that pro-life voters know where I stand, and also know where my opponent, Hillary Clinton, stands,” Trump wrote.
“I am committed,” Trump said, “to: … Defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions, and re-allocating their funding to community health centers that provide comprehensive health care for women.”
In his inaugural address, Trump did not back away from his pledge to secure the border.
“We will bring back our borders,” he vowed.
Three days later, he used executive authority to reinstate the Mexico City policy, which denies federal funding to organizations that provide or promote abortions abroad.
But he needed congressional action to defund Planned Parenthood at home, and a congressional appropriation to begin building the wall he said would ultimately be funded by Mexico.
A week after Trump’s inauguration, Vice President Mike Pence told the March for Life that Trump would keep his pro-life promises — with the help of the newly elected, Republican-majority, pro-life Congress.
“Life is winning again in America,” Pence said.
“That is evident in the election of pro-life majorities in the Congress of the United States of America,” he said. “But it is no more evident, in any way, than in the historic election of a president who stands for a stronger America, a more prosperous America, and a president who, I proudly say, stands for the right to life — President Donald Trump.”
“I like to say that over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we are in the promise-keeping business,” said Pence.
“That’s why on Monday, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy to prevent foreign aid from funding organizations that promote or perform abortions worldwide,” said Pence. “That’s why this administration will work with the Congress to end taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion providers, and we will devote those resources to health care services for women across America.”
In 2011, after Republicans won back control of the House in the 2010 election, then-Rep. Pence introduced an amendment that would, as Pence put it, “deny any and all funding to Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates for the rest of the fiscal year.”
“I rise tonight because I also believe it’s morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use it to fund organizations that provide and promote abortion — like Planned Parenthood of America,” Pence said when his amendment was considered on the House floor.
The House passed Pence’s 2011 amendment, including it in the first funding bill approved by the then-new House Republican majority. But then-House Speaker John Boehner subsequently cut a spending deal with the Democrats in the Senate and the White House that did not include Pence’s amendment to defund Planned Parenthood.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the Government Accountability Office determined that Planned Parenthood Federation of America affiliates received $400.56 million in Medicaid reimbursements in both federal and state dollars in 2012. Planned Parenthood affiliates, according to GAO, also spent $64.35 million in federal Title X funding in 2012.
When the House Republican leaders this year put together their weak and redistributionist reconciliation bill to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, it included language that would have denied Medicaid money to Planned Parenthood — for just one year. But it would not have denied Title X money to Planned Parenthood — because reconciliation bills do not deal with discretionary spending like that doled out under Title X.
When principled House conservatives opposed that Obamacare bill, the Republican leadership did not bring it up for a vote.
Now, Congress faces an April 28 deadline to pass a new government funding bill.
There is currently no talk that it will include language to prohibit funding of Planned Parenthood.
But there is talk that it will not include the language that President Trump has requested to provide $1.4 billion to begin his project to build “a great, great wall on our southern border.”
The Republican House can pass and send to the Republican Senate a bill that funds the border wall but not Planned Parenthood. Or they can pass one that funds Planned Parenthood but not the border wall.
The former course of action would fulfill the campaign promises that got their president elected. The latter would appease congressional Democrats and the liberal press.
So, which will it be?