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Washington's next big wars: Planned Parenthood and Boehner's future

The Planned Parenthood War is about to begin. So is the fight over Boehner’s future.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio leaves the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Feb. 27, 2015.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio leaves the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Feb. 27, 2015.

Iran deal is a done deal. But you wouldn’t know that from today’s activity … The Planned Parenthood War is about to begin. And so is the fight over Boehner’s future … I’m sorry, so sorry: Hillary finally apologizes … Why Hillary isn’t clear from the email story until the FBI gives her a clean bill of health … Bush unveils his tax-cut plan … And RIP, Andy Kohut.


*** Iran deal is a done deal. But you wouldn’t know that from today’s activity: If you looked at all of today’s events, you’d think that we’re at some tipping point in the debate over the Iran deal. The Democratic and GOP frontrunners -- Hillary Clinton (at 9:00 am ET at the Brookings Institution) and Donald Trump (at a noon ET rally with Ted Cruz) -- are making dueling arguments regarding the deal. And Congress is equally fired up today. But much like the Battle of New Orleans, all of these rhetorical guns are being fired as the war over the Iran deal is essentially a done deal. The story is over, but the talking (or fighting) isn’t. We found that out yesterday after the Obama White House got 42 Senate Democrats to support the deal -- one more than what’s needed to filibuster a resolution of disapproval, which would prevent the president from even having to issue a veto. (Now all of these 42 Senate Dems might not be committed to a filibuster right now, but do they want to have to take additional votes? That’s the question they’ll be facing.) So consider today a day full of sound and fury signifying nothing. As for Obama, the Iran deal represents his biggest achievement of his second term. But like with his other wins, it’s never pretty or easy. He may be getting what he wants, but it’s hardly a victory lap when bipartisan majorities in Congress and in the public aren’t celebrating with you.

RELATED: Hillary Clinton draws hard line on Iran

*** The Planned Parenthood War is about to begin. So is the fight over Boehner’s future: As soon as the rhetoric over the Iran deal dies down, the next big Washington war will be over Planned Parenthood and keeping the government open after Sept. 30. And here is the deal: At least 28 House Republicans have demanded that Speaker John Boehner and his team block any deal that continues to fund Planned Parenthood. Why is that problematic? Because if Boehner loses more than 28 votes, his party no longer has an effective majority. Folks, this is the same dynamic that led to a government shutdown over the health-care law in 2013. And this war over Planned Parenthood will come as House conservatives say that Boehner doesn’t have enough support to win re-election as speaker. “Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), one of the 28 Republicans who publicly supports replacing House Speaker Rep. John Boehner with a Republican alternative, told Breitbart News on Tuesday that Boehner does not have enough support within the Republican conference to win re-election with just Republican votes.” Mulvaney is talking about re-election as speaker. But what if a vote is forced sooner than that? That’s what this fall is about for Boehner. (This is about these 28 House conservatives trying to use a “motion to vacate” to essentially hold Boehner’s feet to the conservative fire.) Can he navigate these conservative land mines over the next 60 days without putting his speakership on the line before the end of THIS year? ?  If this becomes a public debate within GOP circles, Boehner is in BIG trouble. Given the current dynamics in the presidential race where outsiders are crushing the insiders (for now), what Republican presidential candidate is going to comfortable standing by Boehner? Some will, but fewer than you think.

*** I’m sorry, so sorry: Six months after it first became news, Hillary Clinton finally offered a full apology yesterday for using a personal email account to conduct official business. The question we and others have asked: Why didn’t Clinton rip off that Band-Aid much, much earlier? Of course, Clinton’s mea culpa yesterday represents a full change from the summer, when she was either joking about the issue (remember the “Snapchat” joke?), saying it was a partisan witch hunt, or telling reporters that no one but journalists care about the story. In fact, as our colleagues Monica Alba and Alex Seitz-Wald point out, her apology is an evolution from just the last few days:

  • SEPTEMBER 4, 2015: “At the end of the day, I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions, but there are answers to all these questions,” she told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. (The “sorry” here was for the confusion.)
  • SEPTEMBER 7, 2015: “What I did was allowed. It was allowed by the State Department. The State Department has confirmed that,” she told the AP, refusing to apologize.
  • SEPTEMBER 8, 2015: “That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility,” she told ABC News.
  • SEPTEMBER 8, 2015: “Yes, I should have used two email addresses, one for personal matters and one for my work at the State Department. Not doing so was a mistake. I’m sorry about it, and I take full responsibility,” she said in a Facebook post.

Make no mistake: Clinton’s apology was meant more for donors and Democratic activists. And the good news for her is that there isn’t much left to ask on the apology/personal account front.

*** But what COULD have been a great day for Clinton: Besides the apology, yesterday we saw Clinton laugh, dance, and cry. Just think of how it might have been perceived if her campaign didn’t tell the New York Times in advance that she was going to show “more humor and heart”… Talk about the feeling of being manufactured.

*** Why Hillary isn’t clear from the email story until the FBI gives her a clean bill of health: Here’s one more final Clinton-related point to make: Yesterday’s resignations at United Airlines are a reminder than when there’s a federal investigation, it can lead to things well beyond the original scope. So if “Bridge-gate” could later result in news about Port Authority head David Samson trading favors with United Airlines, it’s also possible that this Hillary email story could do down other legal rabbit holes with the FBI looking at it. In fact, the email story is already evidence of this -- given that it all originated from the Benghazi investigation.

*** Bush unveils his tax-cut plan: In North Carolina at 1:30 pm ET, Jeb Bush will unveil his tax-cut plan. NBC’s Jordan Frasier with the details: “Bush proposes reducing individual tax brackets from seven to three at 28%, 25% and 10%, according to an op-ed previewing his plan published in the Wall Street Journal … Plus, the former governor calls for eliminating the marriage penalty, the estate tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax, while expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit.” Those policies -- especially reducing the top rate to 28% and eliminating the estate tax -- amount to a significant tax-cut for wealthy Americans. But perhaps to blunt that impression, Bush also calls to end some tax loopholes benefitting the well-off, like “carried interest.” The biggest questions we have: One, how much revenue does the tax plan cost (in both static and dynamic scoring)? And two, if Bush desires to balance the budget, what else will he plan to cut to pay for the tax cut?

*** RIP, Andy Kohut: “Andrew Kohut, a leading pollster who for three decades mined the public’s views on subjects like sex, race and religion but who, as an impartial professional, rarely revealed his own, died on Tuesday in Baltimore. He was 73,” per The New York Times. Andy will be missed; he was one of the truly nice people in the political business.

*** On the trail: Elsewhere today, Chafee campaigns in New Hampshire, Jindal hits Iowa, and Carson is in California.

OFF THE RACES: Moving on up

CNN moved its primetime debate up by an hour to shorten the window between the undercard debate and the big event.

Software pioneer John McAfee says he's running for president.

A crowd of GOP candidates will attend a Republican tailgate party before the University of Iowa/Iowa State game on Saturday.

In a letter obtained by NPR, the conservative Latino group the Libre Initiative – which is funded by the Koch brothers - criticized calls for mass deportation and ending birthright citizenship made by some of the GOP presidential candidates.

Candidates are weighing in on the migrant crisis in Europe.

BIDEN: POLITICO writes that his decision may come down to what his wife decides.

BUSH: In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, he laid out his tax plan, which includes the consolidation of tax brackets and the slashing of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%.

He met yesterday with Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore, publishing executive Steve Forbes and CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow, reports the Washington Post.

The Huffington Post notes: "Bush will present a tax plan on Wednesday that curbs a lucrative perk for hedge fund managers and private equity magnates -- a proposals that mirrors those of his top rivals in the 2016 presidential election."

On Stephen Colbert's first episode of "The Late Show" last night, Bush said that his brother "should have brought the hammer down on the Republicans when they were spending way too much."

CARSON: He took a swipe at Trump's immigration plan, saying "People who say that have no idea what that would entail in terms of our legal system, the costs - forget about it."

And he told The Hill he's not going to change his low-key style. "I’ve heard people say, ‘You have to have more fire.’ They want me to stomp and bang my fists, but that’s not who I am. I’m a calm and rational person. You have to be that way as a neurosurgeon."

CHRISTIE: The CEO of United Airlines is stepping down amid a federal investigation that involves former Christie ally David Sampson. "United began a direct flight between Newark, New Jersey, and Columbia, South Carolina, where Samson has a summer home, while he was chairman and ended it days after he resigned last year. United, the dominant airline at Newark Liberty International Airport, was negotiating with the Port Authority over projects at the airport at the same time."

CLINTON: She reversed course, telling ABC News Tuesday that she is "sorry" for her use of a private email server.

The Wall Street Journal: "Hillary Clinton, in her last months as secretary of state, helped open the door to a dramatic shift in U.S. policy toward Iran: an acceptance that Tehran would maintain at least some capacity to produce nuclear fuel, according to current and former U.S. officials."

She's set to announce her plan to counter Iran's influence in the Middle East.

POLITICO rounds up her five-point plan on Iran, which the Clinton campaign views as "a prime opportunity to remind voters of her foreign policy experience and willingness to go beyond the White House."

KASICH: John Kasich says that his rivals are "already spilling acid on me."

He expressed some skepticism about his colleagues who have said they would "rip up" the Iran deal on their first day in office.

RUBIO: He said the party is "blessed" by the large GOP field.

PERRY: NBC's Alex Jaffe confirms that he's shuttered his South Carolina headquarters.

SANDERS: He's staffing up in South Carolina.

TRUMP: Here's his thoughts on taking in Syrian refugees: "I hate the concept of it, but on a humanitarian basis, you have to."

WALKER: He's launching a new site to highlight what he would do on "Day One" of his presidency.

Meanwhile, National Review looks at what went wrong with his candidacy. "Above all, the past few months have amplified questions about whether Walker’s campaign and, more importantly, the candidate himself are built to thrive on a stage larger and less forgiving than Wisconsin. Political observers had long worried about whether he had the charisma to succeed in a presidential contest. Now, there are doubts about his substance."

NBC News' Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann contributed to this report.