Alaska's Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is one of the most important swing votes in the health care debate, making her position on Planned Parenthood potentially pivotal to the shape of the final bill. Murkowski is one of two Republican women -- joined by Maine's Sen. Susan Collins -- who are folding firm on the argument that defunding Planned Parenthood will de facto end any possibility of her supporting a Republican-sponsored healthcare alternative to Obamacare.
"I am committed to ensuring that important provisions of the ACA, such as covering those with pre-existing conditions, continued support for Medicaid expansion, coverage for dependents and no lifetime limits, and funding for Planned Parenthood remain intact," Murkowski wrote in the constituent letter obtained by Politico. .
When asked about the letter this week, Murkowski repeated that she wouldn't make a promise on a bill she hasn't seen. Instead, she said she is a "strong proponent [of Planned Parenthood] and I will fight to keep the funding in. I can't make promises or representations on bills that I don't know the contents of. I guess I'd have to see. But I have been solid on Planned Parenthood. It's all about access."
Republicans need 50 of 52 Republican senators to pass their plan, causing Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie. It seems unimaginable that the Republican plan won't include a defunding of Planned Parenthood plank. One more Republican senator willing to vote against the plan ends its hope of passage. Murkowski has severely criticized the Republican process of creating an alternative to Obamacare as too secretive, with no public hearings, no input from Republican women senators, and a proposed plan that the majority of senators have no knowledge about.