Republicans campaigned in 2016 on defunding Planned Parenthood.
The nation’s largest abortion provider receives over $500 million in federal funding.
But now one establishment Republican is going back on his word and it could kill the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
Senator Dean Heller of Nevada is facing his re-election in 2018.
Even though he’s running in a state Hillary Clinton barely carried by 27,000, he’s panicking.
Democrats have flooded town halls with agitators and paid protesters to try and intimidate Republicans into backing away from the conservative agenda that got them elected.
And it appears to be working on Heller.
He told a town hall audience he would “protect Planned Parenthood” and oppose defunding the abortion mill.
The Hill reported:
“Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said Monday during a combative town hall that he supports federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
“I have no problems with federal funding for Planned Parenthood,” Heller said when asked about his support for the health organization.
The GOP senator was booed when he initially appeared to hedge his answer on whether or not he supports federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
He said lawmakers would “continue to look at this issue” before adding: “I will protect Planned Parenthood.”
Heller—who is the most vulnerable Senate Republican up for reelection—and Rep. Mark Amodei (Nev.) faced a rancorous two-hour town hall on Monday. They fielded multiple questions on Planned Parenthood and a vote last month that could allow states to cut off Title X family-planning funding to the organization.”
Heller’s remarks infuriated conservatives.
Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance told media outlets her group would let their members in Nevada know about Heller’s betrayal.
“Social conservatives will campaign against Heller: I emailed a few top sources to get an early read on how movement leaders are reacting to Heller’s comments. Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America, reflected the majority sentiment: “I am very disappointed to read this and disappointed doesn’t even begin to cover the reaction our members in Nevada will have when we inform them of Heller’s new position.”
Heller voted in 2015 to defund Planned Parenthood through the reconciliation bill which defunded Obamacare.
And as recently as January, he supported defunding the group.
Pro-abortion Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are expected to vote against any reconciliation bill that defunds Planned Parenthood.
Since the GOP only holds 52 seats, one more defection could sink the effort.
Political experts also note Heller’s betrayal will not win him any votes.
The midterm elections – when Heller is scheduled to face the voters – are contests of base mobilization.
Democrats are energized and Heller’s decision to abandon the pro-life cause will depress Republican turnout.
Any abortion supporters are likely mobilized against him, so his flip-flop will only decrease Republican turnout.
Rather than attract new voters, this will limit his appeal to the supporters he needs to turn out to the polls.