Dems Protect Planned Parenthood Funding, Block Budget Extension

Architect of the Capitol

Sen­ate Demo­crats blocked a Re­pub­lic­an bill Thursday that would keep the gov­ern­ment from shut­ting down at month’s end but strip fund­ing from Planned Par­ent­hood.

The bill was voted down 47-52, with eight Re­pub­lic­ans cross­ing over to op­pose the meas­ure and one Demo­crat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Vir­gin­ia, vot­ing with Re­pub­lic­ans for a second time to end fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood. Many of the Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans who voted against Thursday’s spend­ing bill say they don’t be­lieve the fight over Planned Par­ent­hood fund­ing should threaten the op­er­a­tion of the gov­ern­ment.

Maine Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Susan Collins who op­posed the meas­ure, warned against the strategy on Tues­day when the vote was ini­tially an­nounced. “I don’t think the two is­sues should be linked,” Collins said Tues­day. “I think that we need a clean CR in or­der to make sure the gov­ern­ment does not shut down and that is my top pri­or­ity.”

The bill, which would have kept the gov­ern­ment open through Dec. 11, was Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell’s open­ing move in what has be­come a high-stakes game of budget chick­en. The Re­pub­lic­an lead­er has been very clear that his end goal is to avoid a shut­down, but if—and how—he will achieve this re­mains up in the air, es­pe­cially as some Re­pub­lic­ans say they won’t vote for any meas­ure that ex­tends fed­er­al fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood.

Mc­Con­nell has re­peatedly warned his caucus that at­tach­ing the Planned Par­ent­hood meas­ure to a gov­ern­ment fund­ing bill would fail. Thursday’s vote demon­strated that point to con­ser­vat­ives in the Sen­ate, and per­haps more im­port­antly, the House. Mc­Con­nell is now ex­pec­ted to bring up a clean con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion to keep the gov­ern­ment open through Dec. 11. That meas­ure should pass the Sen­ate, but it’s un­clear when the bill will clear the up­per cham­ber and wheth­er the House can stom­ach it.

A spend­ing bill must pass through both houses and be signed by the pres­id­ent by Sept. 30 to pre­vent a gov­ern­ment shut­down. Con­ser­vat­ives, in­clud­ing the House Free­dom Caucus and Sen. Ted Cruz, have vowed to op­pose any meas­ure that con­tin­ues fed­er­al fund­ing of Planned Par­ent­hood.

The fight over abor­tion on the Hill stems from the re­lease of a series of sting videos al­legedly show­ing Planned Par­ent­hood il­leg­ally selling fetal tis­sue. The or­gan­iz­a­tion denies the al­leg­a­tions, say­ing it donated them to med­ic­al re­search and only charged the over­head costs.

With sup­port for a clean con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion in the Demo­crat­ic caucus and a large por­tion of the Re­pub­lic­an ma­jor­ity as well, Cruz and oth­ers can­not pre­vent the Sen­ate from passing the fund­ing bill, but he could delay it. The Sen­ate re­quires un­an­im­ous ap­prov­al to shorten its lengthy pro­cess for con­sid­er­ing and vot­ing on new le­gis­la­tion. With just four le­gis­lat­ive days left for Con­gress to agree on a fund­ing bill be­fore the Sept. 30 dead­line, Cruz could wield a lot of power over the clock.

After the vote, Cruz did not say what, if any, ac­tion he will be tak­ing next to op­pose a clean con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion.

“The tim­ing of the vote is not con­sequen­tial, wheth­er the vote is Sat­urday or Sunday or Monday,” he told re­port­ers after the vote. “What’s con­sequen­tial is that we do the right thing, and so my fo­cus is on ur­ging Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship and all Re­pub­lic­ans to stand up and do the right thing - to hon­or the com­mit­ments we made to the men and wo­men who elec­ted us.”

Sen. Rand Paul, who is run­ning against Cruz for the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion, op­posed Thursday’s bill — but not, his of­fice in­sisted in a state­ment — be­cause he dis­agrees with Cruz on the Planned Par­ent­hood is­sue. Paul op­posed the bill be­cause he does not sup­port the con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion and, his of­fice ad­ded, has nev­er sup­por­ted one since en­ter­ing Con­gress in 2010.

“Sen. Rand Paul today proved that he is the only can­did­ate will­ing to stand up to the Wash­ing­ton Ma­chine and put an end to its out-of-con­trol spend­ing. … Sen. Paul has led the charge against Planned Par­ent­hood and in­tro­duced le­gis­la­tion to de­fund it,” Paul’s of­fice said in a state­ment. “This Short-Term Con­tinu­ing Res­ol­u­tion, however, does everything ex­cept re­solve the prob­lem— it is a ca­nard. This ‘res­ol­u­tion’ will add $400 bil­lion in new debt over the full year and a $10 bil­lion in­crease over the budget caps.”

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