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Congress: House passes abortion-ban bill

AP: “The Republican-led House passed a far-reaching antiabortion bill Tuesday that conservatives saw as a milestone in their 40-year campaign against legalized abortion and Democrats condemned as yet another example of the GOP war on women.”

NBC’s Carrie Dann: “The vote was 228-196, with six Democrats and all but six Republicans voting for the measure. But the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, has virtually no chance of becoming law, with the Democratic-led Senate certain to ignore it and the White House threatening in scathing language to veto it.”

Politico: “Opposing it, Democrats supporting abortion rights are stoking liberal anger over the ‘war on women’ and chiding the GOP for spending its time on a divisive social agenda instead of focusing on jobs. They said the bill is unconstitutional and distracting.”

Trent Franks was absent from the debate over his own bill. Roll Call: “The sidelining of bill sponsor Trent Franks, R-Ariz., was a clear signal of the extent to which Republican leadership found itself forced to undertake significant damage control after last week’s Judiciary Committee markup of the bill, when Franks kicked off a firestorm by saying ‘the instance of rape resulting in pregnancy is very low.’”

This abortion comment was, um, interesting… “The [abortion] debate was marked by graphic descriptions of abortion procedures and medical claims. Representative Michael C. Burgess, a Texas Republican who practiced as an obstetrician before joining Congress, appeared to suggest that male fetuses are capable of fondling themselves,” the New York Times says. “‘They have movements that are purposeful,’ Mr. Burgess said during a debate of the bill during the House Rules Committee meeting on Monday. ‘They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. I mean, they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?’” 

Politico notes, as many others have written immediately after the 2010 elections: “Democrats fell far short of winning the House in 2012, an otherwise banner year for the party, and many are privately glum about taking back the chamber in 2014. But that grim immediate outlook raises a far more troubling longer-term prospect for Democrats: that the newly drawn congressional lines have tilted the electoral playing field so decisively in the GOP’s favor that the party could control the House through 2020. That this, in other words, could be the Democrats’ Lost Decade.”

Politico: “Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) says Speaker John Boehner should be ousted if he rams through an immigration bill without majority Republican support. ‘If Speaker Boehner moves forward and permits this to come to a vote even though the majority of the Republicans in the House—and that’s if they do—oppose whatever it is that’s coming to a vote, he should be removed as Speaker,’ Rohrabacher said on World Net Daily radio on Monday.”

Roll Call’s Dennis and Dumain go deeper: “Speaker John A. Boehner looked to cut off a budding revolt Tuesday when he told his fellow Republicans that he couldn’t see a way to bring a bill to the floor without majority GOP support — a move that alarmed Democrats and appeared to shrink the chances of a bill reaching the president’s desk. Boehner’s move was just one of many scenes from a day fraught with peril and promise for an immigration overhaul — from a vote to make illegal immigrants criminals in the House Judiciary Committee to a Congressional Budget Office score that found the Senate bill would cut the deficit by about $900 billion over the next 20 years.”

Meanwhile, the Political Moneyline blog notes while Boehner was being criticized, Eric Cantor’s PAC was handing out checks to members of $5,000 apiece.

NBC’s Dann reports that a Congressional Budget Office analysis shows the immigration bill would reduce the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

“Partisan lines are hardening over the Senate’s immigration reform bill, downgrading hopes a 70-plus majority of senators will back it in an up-or-down vote next week,” The Hill writes, adding, “Yet hopes the bill could win 70 or 80 votes are fading along with the chances that a key amendment sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) will be approved.”

Ron Brownstein: “Most Americans say illegal immigrants should be allowed to remain in the country, but the public divides evenly on whether citizenship should be linked to stiff progress in securing the border, as many Senate Republicans are demanding, the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll has found. … On the most fundamental question of how to handle the estimated 11 million immigrants now in the U.S. illegally, just 25 percent of those surveyed said illegal immigrants ‘should not be allowed to stay in the country legally.’ But the remainder divided over what form legalization should take. The largest group, 45 percent, said those here illegally  ‘should be able to apply for US citizenship,’ the approach taken in the bipartisan ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration reform bill now on the Senate floor. The remaining 22 percent said they should be allowed to seek ‘permanent residency’ but not citizenship, as some House Republicans prefer.”

National Journal on House Republicans’ immigration strategy: “House Republicans are ready to play ball on immigration—aggressively. They are taking the strategy they attribute to President Obama—pushing for legislation and taking political credit, win or lose—and using it for themselves. They are asking for big-time enforcement, much of it highly offensive to Democrats. If the final negotiations don’t work out, they can always say they tried and Democrats rejected their overtures.”