GOP fails to end fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood

Se­nate passes bill to avert shut­down

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

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.

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