For much of the spring, Republicans were quite annoyed by talk of the GOP's "war on women." By late April, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had just about had enough and delivered an angry tirade on the House floor. For Boehner and other Republicans, the very idea is trumped-up "fiction," based on bogus misconceptions cooked up by Democrats and sympathetic reporters.
But if the right wants to see fewer reports about Republican policymakers acting against the interests of American women, then Republican policymakers should stop taking actions that undermine the interests of American women.
This spring's political contretemps over access to contraception are returning to Capitol Hill -- and this time Republicans are trying to tie the issue to must-pass legislation, foreshadowing a possible government shutdown standoff unless conservatives back down and temporarily agree to set aside earlier grievances.House Republicans renewed their effort Wednesday by advancing a measure through the Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee with a rider to roll back President Obama's contraception mandate. Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, the rule requires employer-provided health insurance plans to cover contraception without co-pays, with carve-outs for churches and religious non-profits. Republicans on the panel defeated a Democratic amendment to strip the provision, suggesting they're willing to pick the fight.
Taking the lead on this, oddly enough, is subcommittee Chairman Denny Rehberg (R), who's in the middle of a spirited U.S. Senate race in Montana. It's odd for Rehberg to pick a fight over contraception -- a move that's unlikely to win him many votes in Montana -- but here we are.
It's worth keeping an eye on this, not only because so many GOP lawmakers are preoccupied with limiting access to contraception, but also because it's unclear just how far Republicans are prepared to go. The threat of a pre-election spending standoff is real.
As Sahil Kapur explained, Senate GOP leaders are prepared to simply keep funding levels where they are through the election. If House Republicans balk, however, birth control access may be a flash point that risks -- you guessed it -- a government shutdown, possibly in September.
What's more, it's not just contraception. GOP lawmakers are also looking to defund Planned Parenthood and eliminate Title X family planning efforts, among other things.
The larger pattern here is hardly a "fiction." It's obviously all too real.