This time last summer, a letter pledging to oppose any government-funding bill that included money to implement Obamacare was surging through the House GOP. Eventually, more than one-third of the GOP conference signed the letter, including top Senate candidates like Bill Cassidy and Steve Daines.
Two years later, a similar recess letter about Planned Parenthood has not gained the same momentum, with just 18 House Republicans signing on. And this time, Senate candidates like Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman and Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis are notable because they have declined to join the signers.
Both face competitive, multi-way Republican primaries in their states. Both are taking care to position themselves as the most conservative candidate running for the GOP nomination. But in a signal of how the Planned Parenthood letter has not caught on like Obamacare did two years ago, neither congressman has signed on to the document pledging not to support "an appropriations bill, an omnibus package, a continuing resolution, or otherwise — that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood, including mandatory funding streams."
While both DeSantis and Stutzman have spoken out against using tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood after the release of undercover videos highlighting the use of fetal tissue in research, this year's letter has not become the same litmus test of conservative bona fides that Obamacare was two years prior. In 2013, a post on the website of FreedomWorks, a conservative outside group, kept a running tally of which members of Congress had signed the letter. Expectations from the group and other conservatives were clear: "Republicans in both chambers of Congress must all be committed to absolutely refusing to vote for any spending bill that contains funding for ObamaCare."