Today, the House will likely pass HR 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” Any rumors you heard that House Republicans have a jobs agenda are greatly diminished by this spectacle. So too with the fact that the President already threatened a veto.

But there may be a method to this madness. Earlier this year, House Republicans passed a series of bills that had no chance of passing into law either, only to see them crop up as riders in the continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. The DC school voucher bill is a good example of a standalone measure that passed and then wound up in the CR. So is the Planned Parenthood defunding bill, although that rider never made it all the way. That could be the gambit with HR 3. Or it will be, at least, if Trent Franks has anything to say about it:

The decision to put the measure on the floor is giving new hope to some social conservatives who want their issues swept up into the debt limit debate.

Rep. Trent Franks, an anti-abortion advocate, said that House Republicans “have some leverage” to get the Democratically controlled Senate to take up the legislation, similar to the way House Republicans forced an amendment onto the continuing resolution that would defund federal funding for Planned Parenthood. As part of a larger agreement on the final CR, Senate leaders agreed to hold a separate vote on the Planned Parenthood amendment […]

While Franks, a two-term lawmaker from Arizona, acknowledged that a balanced budget amendment may be better suited to be part of a compromise debt limit vote, he still has hope for a Senate vote on an anti-abortion bill.

Franks isn’t alone in hoping that H.R. 3 is part of the discussion on the debt ceiling extension.

“What we use the debt limit to leverage is really up to the leaders, [but] I would think this would be one of the bills that we could be asking for,” said Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), an ardent anti-abortion supporter.

It’s worth noting that Chris Smith, the sponsor of the bill, didn’t agree that this would be a good idea.

Speaking with reporters on Wednesday as the House prepares for its expected passage of the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act,” Smith — one of the House’s most ardent opponents of abortion and a leader on the issue for decades — brushed off direct questions about a plan floated by some Republicans to tie HR 3 to the upcoming vote to raise the nation’s debt limit. Republicans were able to attach an anti-abortion rider to the budget deal preventing Washington, DC from spending its taxpayer funds on abortion coverage for poor women, and some Republicans hope to repeat that strategy with Smith’s bill.

Smith dodged when asked if he’d support the plan.

“I just want to get through today,” he told TPM.

Republicans clearly view all the legislation they’ve passed this year as chips that can be pulled out in any hostage-taking event, as sweeteners to get conservative backing for a deal.

I don’t know whether the idea that the tea party and this breed of Republicans were only concerned with social issues was put to rest already, but by now it should be.

David Dayen

David Dayen