GOP fails to end funding for Planned Parenthood
Senate passes bill to avert shutdown
A bid by Republican Senate leaders to strip funding from Planned Parenthood failed Thursday when eight Republicans joined Democrats to filibuster the move, dooming conservatives’ hopes of forcing a shutdown showdown with President Obama over the fate of the abortion provider.
Supporters mustered 47 votes for their bill — well shy of the 60 needed to overcome the filibuster — and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, quickly pulled the Planned Parenthood fight from the floor and proposed a “clean” bill to fund basic government operations into the next fiscal year without any ideological strings attached.
A final vote is expected next week. The bill then will shift to the House, where Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, will have to round up enough votes to pass the measure before Thursday, when the next fiscal year begins.
Without a funding bill, the government would go into a partial shutdown with both sides angling for political advantage.
“Every moment Republicans squander on pointless votes brings us close to an unfunded federal government,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. “Wasting time also leaves a void for shutdown advocates.”
The Planned Parenthood fight has been building for weeks, spurred by a series of undercover videos shot by the Center for Medical Progress that appear to show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal tissue to be used for medical research. Such sales are legal only if they aren’t for profit.
The videos have shocked Republicans and energized pro-life forces, who immediately began calling for an end to taxpayer money that flows to the organization — even though federal money generally cannot go to pay for abortions. Instead, the group receives government money as grants or contracts to perform other women’s health care services.
Mr. McConnell proposed shifting some $235 million from Planned Parenthood to other community and women’s health care organizations over the next year, saying questions about the videos need to be answered before Planned Parenthood is funded again.
President Obama vowed a veto to protect Planned Parenthood, and eight Republicans joined all but one Democrat in the Senate in rejecting Mr. McConnell’s bill — though for varying reasons.
Some Republicans said the fight was futile. Others rejected budgeting by stopgap bills, saying Congress needed to pass full-year funding for programs.
“I’d rather it defund Planned Parenthood, but if the votes aren’t there, I don’t see the point of having a standoff,” said Sen. Roger F. Wicker, Mississippi Republican and head of the party’s 2016 senatorial campaign.