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What did Michele Bachmann really say about policy riders in the budget?

A statement from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on CNN’s John King USA received a great deal of attention in the blogosphere late Thursday night and Friday morning. When asked about the policy riders on social issues like abortion, environmental regulation and health care reform that are holding up budget negotiations, Bachmann advocated a “clean bill” in the face of a government shutdown to ensure that members of the military get paid.

This was reported in dozens of blogs and online publications as a chink in the tea party armor, an admission from Bachmann that she, despite being one of the more aggressive conservatives in Congress, was willing to scrap amendments like the one defunding Planned Parenthood if it meant averting a government shutdown. Here’s what Bachmann actually said, via a (partial) transcript:

That’s why, today, I voted no on the bill, because we heard from President Obama this morning, he was going to vote no on the Republican bill. Knowing that, I think it’s important that we do what I think 100 percent of Congress should be able to vote for, and that’s ensure full paycheck protection for all of the military.

We need to do that bill alone. That’s just a policy bill, it’s not even a continuing resolution. We should pass that bill and at least take the troops off the table. From there, we can go back and fight about all the other portions of this appropriations, but I think the troops should not be a political football. That should not be a game.

Bachmann, therefore, was saying the opposite of what’s reported: She’s all for upholding the budget impasse so that the policy riders can eventually get pushed through, but she wants an entirely separate bill that would fund only military salaries so that they’re not affected by the shutdown.

Other Republicans, however, have come out and said exactly what Bachmann was inaccurately quoted as saying. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) conceded:

I’d like to defund Planned Parenthood, but I understand that Republicans don’t have complete control of the elected government. I think what we should do is cut spending as much as we can, get the policy changes that we can, but move on, because there are other, bigger battles that we are fighting.

Meanwhile, the staunchly anti-abortion, avowedly conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said to MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan:

My recommendation to my friends in the House is, you know, it’s highly unlikely that many riders are going to get passed with a Democrat president and a Democrat Senate, so why don’t you take the spending and let’s get on to the budget?

Of course, all budget provisions must originate in the House, so no matter how conservative a given senator is, his or her words have little impact on what will actually happen with the continuing resolution. But as the shutdown looms, senators like Toomey and Coburn will need some allies in the House if the government is to run at full capacity after Friday night.

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