Politics

Sen. Harry Reid brings his family into shutdown battle

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the national debate over government funding personal in a floor speech Friday, arguing in part that Republicans were putting up a fight because they “want” to take away his wife and daughters’ access to health care.

“Republicans want to shut down our nation’s government because they want to make it harder for women to get the health services they need,” Reid said, after warning that women in his family could lose access to health care under the GOP’s plan. “Republicans want to shut down the government because they think there’s nothing more important than keeping women from getting cancer screenings? This is indefensible. Everyone should be outraged. Men, women should be outraged.”

Reid is referring to the Republican proposal to revoke federal funding from Planned Parenthood and Title X, which offers free and subsidized reproductive medical care. Planned Parenthood also provides abortion services, although it is already illegal to pay for them with taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers spent $317 million on Title X in 2010.

Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to find a deal to keep the government open before the last stopgap funding measure expires at midnight Friday. Leaders from both parties say they are close to reaching a deal, but Reid insists that the only provision holding up a final agreement is the GOP’s insistence to defund Planned Parenthood. Republican leaders counter that the sticking point has everything to do with spending.

“They’re willing it appears clearly to throw women under the bus, even if it means it will shut down the government,” Reid said.

Planned Parenthood’s Political Action Committee last year donated $656,858 to support Democratic campaigns and another $248,852 against Republican candidates. Also in 2010 alone, Planned Parenthood shelled out another $588,862 on lobbying.

Reid added that he was “very hopeful” they would reach an agreement before the government shuts down.

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