Since the 2014 midterm elections we've heard constant blather about the GOP being focused on proving that it can govern responsibly. So what do Congressional Republicans do? Try to pass abortion legislation. Forget about the economy, forget about job creation, it's ALL about pleasing the Christofascists in the party base. The move proved even more disastrous because disagreement broke out amongst the ranks and the bill had to be pulled. Talking Points Memo looks at the GOP three ring circus. Here are highlights:
Tens of thousands of Americans descended on Washington for the annual March For Life on Thursday only to see House Republicans melt down over their signature issue: abortion.
A symbolic messaging bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy threw the party into disarray and was abruptly pulled at the last minute after a group of GOP women and swing-district lawmakers raised hackles over a rape-exception provision that required victims of sexual assault to report the crime to authorities before they could get an abortion.
The rebellion was lit in recent days by women in the conference, primarily Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), as well as more centrist members including a sizable faction of freshmen in swing districts. Republican leaders and conservatives were blindsided — after all, they had comfortably passed similar legislation in the last Congress with the same rape clause.
Center-right Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) strongly criticized the abortion bill, suggesting that it passed with the rape clause in 2013 only because most members hadn't read it closely.
"The less we engage on this issue [of rape] legislatively, the better off we are as a party," he said. "What kind of message are we sending?"
In the end, Republican leaders pulled the bill and took a bullet for their objecting members, who were facing the wrath of anti-abortion advocates. Opponents admitted it likely would have passed despite their objections, but the drama over the rape clause would have put moderates in a bind and threatened to damage the party's brand.
"I would prefer that our party spend less time focusing on these very contentious social issues because that distracts us from broader economic messages," Dent said. "This was a messaging bill that was going nowhere in the Senate."
One of the rebelling freshman, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), called the rape provision in the abortion bill that was shelved a "mistake." He said it caused "a level of discomfort, especially with the females in our conference."
"I'm pro-life but I had concerns about the bill — the rape requirement. I think that was something that was dividing our conference," he told reporters. "We have to have absolute sympathy and solidarity with any woman who was raped."
For Dent, it has been a depressing start to the new Congress.
"Week one, we had a Speaker election that didn't go as well as a lot of us would have liked. Week two, we spent a lot of time talking about deporting children, a conversation a lot of us didn't want to have. Week three, we're debating reportable rape and incest — again, not an issue a lot of us wanted to have a conversation about," the Republican congressman said. "I just can't wait for week four."
Sadly, much of the GOP base believes that any woman who is raped must have been asking for it or is a slut who is trying to use a claim of rape to cover her own promiscuity. Such is the base of today's GOP. Expect more batshitery and focus on social issues and immigrant bashing since these issues fire up the lunatic party base.