Calendars have a way of putting things in perspective. No matter what dramatic events are taking place in the nation’s capital — from Pope Francis’ historic visit to House Speaker John Boehner’s surprise retirement announcement — the earth’s revolutions keep getting annotated.
And Wednesday is but three days hence. Same as every week but this time the calendar reminds elected officials the end of the fiscal year coincides with that date.
FY 2016 begins Thursday and there is no budget or concurrent resolution passed to fund the federal government from that day forward. The next three days will be a scramble to accomplish just that. Or should be.
Instead, the voting public will witness whatever show of strength the ultra-conservatives can muster for a principle. The minority faction is determined to defund Planned Parenthood rather than paying for the new year’s operations.
The effort might reflect what’s in the heart of lawmakers such as Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., but not in the mind of a more analytic and pragmatic public.
Most Americans recognize the misleading nature of the videos purportedly showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the costs involved in collecting fetal tissue. Most know 100 percent of the $500,000 annual public funding the family-planning organization receives goes toward health services. Federal law already prohibits any tax dollars to be used for abortion services.
Still, it remains a flash point for those competing to be the most conservative.
Is it worth shutting down the federal government to do so? We hardly think so. And, practically speaking, it has no chance of advancing. There are not enough ultra-conservative votes in the Senate to come close to overriding a certain presidential veto.
There are enough votes to reprise the government shutdown as was done in 2011. To do so will risk re-election chances in 2016, and at the same time give Democrats a better chance to retain the White House.
Perhaps Huelskamp’s camp can’t see past the euphoria of Boehner resigning and the pope reaffirming the sanctity of life. Such lawmakers will regret — eventually — a willingness to ignore political realities.
The calendar won’t wait for even the most-principled.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry