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With Friends Like These, Who Needs Democrats?


Senate Republican leadership sells out again - and this time it's a matter of life and death.

This June 3 2014 file photo shows Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Sunday, as most of us attended church, spent time with family, or enjoyed whatever people enjoy on non-football Sundays, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was doing his best Harry Reid impersonation in the Senate.

Sticking it to his conservative colleagues by bombshelling amendments that would have checked President Barack Obama's Iran deal and attached defunding of Planned Parenthood to the highway bill, McConnell completed the rout by reviving the recently-deceased Export-Import Bank.

It must have been particularly satisfying for the majority leader to watch the Ex-Im amendment sail through, given the fact that earlier this week Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas had called him to task for lying to his fellow senators to get it passed.

All in a day's work for Obama's best ally in the Senate.

[sharequote align="center"]All in a day's work for Obama's best ally in the Senate.[/sharequote]

Of course this wasn't the first scrap between McConnell and Cruz. One need only look back to the 2013 debt ceiling fight to recall a similar scenario playing out.

That time, a majority of Republicans who publicly opposed raising the debt ceiling voted nonetheless to lower the vote threshold from 60 votes to 51 in a shady attempt to allow the Democratic majority to pass the measure without requiring any Republicans to wear the blame for casting a "yea" vote.

It was a shell game designed specifically to allow Republicans to join with the Democrats to sink the country further in debt, all while paying lipservice to the principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism.

Fast-forward two years, and we are facing the same situation again - despite working hard to elect a Republican majority to both houses of Congress. Once again we bit on promises that such a majority would stop the president's lawless agenda if we only voted for team Republican, because, unity.

Yet here we are again: Same crap, different day.

This June 3 2014 file photo shows Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

And yet, there are a few important distinctions that make this betrayal hurt worse - even if it's not particularly surprising.

First of all, the majority has changed. Republicans, almost in spite of themselves, managed to wrestle away the majority in 2014, and now have less to hide behind than when Reid and company ran the Senate.

With Republicans in charge, questions of process and priority land squarely in Mitch McConnell's lap. The majority also makes it difficult to deflect blame to the Democrats when conservative legislation dies an unnecessary procedural death.

Second, there are presidential aspirations in the mix now. Three sitting senators are running for the GOP nomination, and the recent fireworks on the floor have placed them firmly in different - and defining - corners.

Rand Paul and Ted Cruz showcased their different approaches to advancing conservative policy in the Senate (Cruz attempted to force an amendment onto the highway bill; Paul introduced new legislation to defund Planned Parenthood seperately), while Lindsey Graham played the foil by coming out as one of the swing votes pulled to McConnell's corner by the promise of Ex-Im renewal.

Paul and Cruz supporters immediately jumped on social media to promote their candidate's strategy.

Meanwhile, all nine of Lindsey Graham's supporters met for coffee and argued over how to set up a Twitter account.

The presidential dynamic is important because, in a year of hightened Republican cynicism, tactical differences can play a big role in establishing conservative credentials - particularly in early voting states like my home state of Iowa.

The third and most important difference is that while the 2013 debacle condemned Americans to more debt and government growth - an important issue in its own right - this new betrayal has quite literally condemned innocents to death for the sake of convenience.

In the wake of two shocking videos showing Planned Parenthood executives hawking baby parts to prospective buyers, the nation is outraged and the abortion industry is reeling. Protests, boycotts, and even the now-obligatory profile picture overlay are the tremors surrounding this cultural earthquake.


Pro-life activists have correctly identified this as the time to engage at every level and fight to end these atrocities.

Apparently, McConnell didn't get the memo.

But it's unfair to let Senate leadership bear the blame alone. It turns out that when the motion to amend was raised, only three senators seconded it.


Out of 54 Republican senators, exactly three voted to make ending federal funding of child dismemberment and body part sales a priority.

Fortunately, no less than 22 GOP senators - including many self-described "conservatives" - found it within their hearts to vote for renewal of the incestuous corporate Ex-Im.

I'm sure the poor starving executives of Boeing and General Electric will appreciate their secondhand charity.

Some argue that a separate bill to defund Planned Parenthood is a better approach, and at least one senator is already going down that road.

It's a nice guesture, but ultimately doomed to mere symbolism. Even if Mitch McConnell allows the bill to reach the floor as a nod to his former endorser, the bill will die a quick death by presidential veto - a barrier neither Congressional majority can breach without the weight of the highway bill to leverage it through.

This was the chance, this was the opportunity. The left is never shy about attaching their policy priorities to must-pass legislation, but when the shoe is on the other foot, Senate Republicans refuse to press the issue - even when it's a matter of life and death.

If there is any good news to be had from what became a really discouraging weekend for conservatives, it is this: Sunday's betrayal has allowed us to clearly see who knows what it means to stand for life and liberty, and who just uses those words for campaign slogans.

It tells us who deserves our support, and who deserves a primary challenge.

After all, with friends like these, who needs enemies?

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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