Here in this excerpt from the March 16th edition of the Cuccinelli Compass, Senator Ken Cuccinelli provides the scoop. He explains how the Democrats managed to fund Planned Parenthood in spite of Senator Chuck Colgan’s adamant opposition (sarcasm intended).
March 16, 2008
Dear Fellow Republican:
Alright, proving once again why anyone Republican that wants to know why things happen the way they do in Virginia government must subscribe to The Compass… in this issue you will read the real reason why the Planned Parenthood defunding amendment was not in the conference committee report on the budget (the conference committee report is the last version of the budget that we vote on, and it cannot be amended, i.e., it’s a straight up or down vote).
Looks can be deceiving. in fact, often times, that’s exactly what some people want in Richmond.
Intro to Budget Conferences
In the House of Delegates, the Speaker appoints the House conferees for every single bill. In the Senate, the chairman of the relevant committee picks the conferees. That means that Chuck Colgan, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, appoints the Senate conferees on the budget.
The rules for all conference committees require that a majority of the conferees from EACH body, i.e., a majority of House conferees and a majority of Senate conferees, must agree on any aspect of a bill before it can be included in the final conference committee report. The “final conference committee report” is the final version of the bill that will be voted on, up or down, without any amendments allowed.
And Now to Our Story.
Here is what the PP amendment process looked like to everyone on the outside:
On Thursday, February 27th, when the House budget was on the Senate floor, I distributed my PP amendment to all of the members. That set off a 4 and a half hour set of maneuvers between me and the Democrats in which they tried several different ways to avoid a vote on the amendment altogether. The Dems could not stop us procedurally, so we voted and got the amendment agreed to due to Democrat Senator Chuck Colgan crossing over and voting with the unified bloc of Republicans, thereby achieving a 20-20 tie, with the Lt. Gov. supporting the Republicans to prevail 21-20.
That same night, the Senate Finance Committee Chairman – the same Sen. Chuck Colgan – appointed the Senate conferees on the budget bill. He named himself and fellow Dem Senators Howell, Houck and Saslaw, as well as Republicans Stosch and Wampler. Nothing here looks terribly out of the ordinary.
So, when the budget conference report emerged, not only was the PP amendment gone, but the two House amendments that addressed abortion were also stripped out. i.e., we got nothing.
Many people were shocked that when, for the first time, we got the Senate to agree to a pro-life budget amendment, there was nothing at all in the final budget.
The blame was cast in two primary places: 1) with Senate conferees Saslaw, Houck and Howell, who were reportedly ready to shut down Virginia government rather than let any pro-life budget amendments get out, no matter how small, and 2) with the House conferees for not fighting hard enough for the amendments.
This is exactly who the Senate Democrats want you to blame, but it is not exactly accurate.
.The Rest of the Story
I’ll summarize it for you: Chuck Colgan killed the PP amendment. Wait a minute Ken, a few paragraphs ago you told us that he was the crossover vote needed to pass the amendment?!? Ahhhh, now you’re beginning to see the game.
We have to go back to January for the beginning of the story.
In January, anticipating a challenging negotiation, the Speaker and Sen. Colgan publicly identified who the budget conferees would be, so that they could start their negotiations early. Sen. Colgan announced on the Senate floor his intention to appoint himself and Democrat Senators Howell and Houck, as well as Republican Senators Stosch and Wampler to the conference committee. Herein lies the rub.
Did you notice anything about that list? It does NOT include Sen. Dick Saslaw. One of the most pro-abortion Senators in the legislature.
So, let’s jump forward to February 27th again.
After Sen. Colgan voted for the PP amendment, that same night he made his official appointments to the budget conference committee and he added Dick Saslaw!
If you click here, you can see the history of HB 30, the budget bill. Scroll to the bottom to see my PP amendment (on 2/27/08) and then – on the same day – the conferee appointments on the same day, but after the amendment passed.
Let me be very clear about the significance of this: Sen. Colgan knew that Dick Saslaw, along with Senators Houck and Howell, would fight to the end against the PP amendment in conference. Read again: HE KNEW when he made the appointments that those three would block the PP amendment being in the final budget – that’s THE REASON he appointed Sen. Saslaw.
Now, as you might imagine, Chuck Colgan was taking tremendous heat in his caucus for his unwillingness to oppose the PP amendment and he has gotten a lot of credit among pro-lifers for joining us on this amendment, but as you can see, he was playing both sides of the issue. For the more public aspect of the contest – voting for the PP amendment – he was with us; however, to take the heat off in his own caucus, in the maneuvers nobody sees (except readers of The Compass.) – appointing conferees to the budget – he cut us off at the knees.
And now you know the rest of THAT story.
How about a little accountability, public sunshine, on how the money is used. What does PP do with the Virginia taxpayers’ $200k?