Las Vegas Sun

February 13, 2016

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John Ensign: Avoid shutdown, focus on larger debt problem

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John Ensign

The march of Republicans coming out against holding up a budget resolution over Planned Parenthood funding at the eleventh hour has been impressive, including Tea Party activists, rumored presidential candidates and some of the biggest spending hawks in Congress.

Add to their ranks one prominent Nevadan: Sen. John Ensign.

Ensign called on his fellow Republicans to swallow a reality check today, with the sort of abandon that can only be summoned by one who knows he can choose a course of action free from scrutiny two Novembers from now.

“Everybody in this body needs to forget about whether they get re-elected, and do what’s right for the country,” Ensign said. “It’s really important for both sides to get this behind us so we can focus on the much larger issues.”

It isn’t that Ensign’s in favor of keeping Planned Parenthood funded -- on the contrary, given a vacuum, he’d probably rather see the dollars go.

“I have an 100 percent pro-life voting record. I believe very strongly that life is precious,” he said. “But we have to face reality: Democrats are in control of the Senate, in control of the White House, and there’s no way that they’re going to allow Planned Parenthood -- which is the largest abortion provider in the United States, I disagree with what they do -- but the Democrats will never allow us to defund Planned Parenthood while they’re in charge.

“We have to look at what we can do, what is achievable,” he said.

For Ensign, like many other Republicans, the fact that these riders have hamstrung the federal budget debate is drawing attention away from the real problem: skyrocketing debt.

“We’re in a debate over a few billion dollars compared to trillions of dollars; it’s really a drop in the bucket,” Ensign said.

Rep. Joe Heck agreed.

“I believe in and support the bill as it came out of the appropriations committee, the original H.R. 1 before the riders went on. I would hope that any discussions taking place at echelons above me are concentrating on keeping government open and cutting spending."

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