With their largest majority in generations, House Republicans are ostensibly in a position to pass whatever they please. Sure, most of their top priorities will struggle to clear Democratic filibusters in the Senate, and they stand little chance of earning President Obama's signature, but with a whopping 246 members, party leaders know a simple truth: what the House GOP wants and House GOP can pass.
At least, that's the way is seemed. If you missed Rachel's reporting
on this last night, House Republican leaders were forced to pull
a proposed abortion ban that had been scheduled for a floor vote today.
House Republicans are scrapping their plans to consider a controversial anti-abortion bill Thursday after a group within the GOP conference raised objections. A senior GOP leadership aide tells NBC they were "not quite ready" to go forward with the Pain-Capable Abortion bill after both men and women pushed back on the bill.
The phrase "not quite ready" makes it seem like Republicans were close to success, but ran short on time. For those who've followed the process closely, however, this effort to downplay a fiasco isn't persuasive at all.
Remember, House GOP leaders have worked on this plan for quite a while: they would bring up a 20-week abortion ban, months in the making, and pass it on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling -- as a reward of sorts for the abortion protesters who gather annually in Washington for the "March for Life."
But as we discussed
yesterday, even like-minded Republican lawmakers couldn't agree among themselves over some of the provisions. The proposed ban was willing to exempt rape victims, for example, but only
if they reported the rape to police -- a condition that many believe would discourage victims from seeking assistance.
Last night, GOP leaders tried to reach an agreement that would satisfy the anti-abortion Republicans feuding with other anti-abortion Republicans, but they apparently couldn't reach a compromise.
There are varying accounts about whether or not the bill could have passed despite the intra-party argument -- by some reports, GOP leaders had the votes, but didn't want to see the party splinter on the issue -- though the end result is the same.
Far-right culture warriors, however, will not leave empty handed. As msnbc's Irin Carmon explained
, Republicans had to pull one bill, but they rushed to replace it with another.
Instead, the House is set to vote on HR7, the so-called No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act, which attacks private insurance coverage of the procedure. (Medicaid and other public funding for abortion is already banned except in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment.)