Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the short-term spending bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the short-term spending bill. Evan Vucci/AP

Senate Leader Offers Bill to Keep Agencies Open and Defund Planned Parenthood

The measure to fund agencies through Dec. 11 is not expected to pass the Senate.

Here we go again.

With just five le­gis­lat­ive days left be­fore a gov­ern­ment shut­down, Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell on Tues­day morn­ing filed a short-term gov­ern­ment fund­ing bill that would also de­fund Planned Par­ent­hood, a coup for con­ser­vat­ives in both cham­bers.

A vote on the meas­ure, which would fund the gov­ern­ment through Dec. 11, will come Thursday, along­side the pope’s vis­it to the Cap­it­ol. But the meas­ure is likely to fail, set­ting up a shut­down count­down clock in the Cap­it­ol build­ing ahead of the Sept. 30 dead­line to fund the gov­ern­ment.

Demo­crats have said re­peatedly that they will not sup­port any­thing but a clean con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion to fund the gov­ern­ment at its cur­rent spend­ing levels, and earli­er at­tempts to de­fund Planned Par­ent­hood failed to garner the 60 votes ne­ces­sary to pro­ceed, earn­ing just two Demo­crat­ic votes.

Giv­en the party’s stance on clean gov­ern­ment-fund­ing bills over the past sev­er­al years, it’s un­likely that any more Demo­crats will be swayed by this new le­gis­la­tion. But Re­pub­lic­ans could lose some of their own mem­bers on the meas­ure as well.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Re­pub­lic­an from Maine, said she would vote against a con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion that de­funds Planned Par­ent­hood, say­ing there should in­stead be an in­vest­ig­a­tion by the Justice De­part­ment to de­term­ine wheth­er the or­gan­iz­a­tion broke any laws.

“If the CR de­funds Planned Par­ent­hood … I would vote against that, be­cause … I don’t think the two is­sues should be linked. 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,” Collins said.

Collins did say that she be­lieves the vote will show con­ser­vat­ives defin­it­ively that link­ing the at­tack on Planned Par­ent­hood with a gov­ern­ment spend­ing bill will not work.

“I don’t want to speak for the lead­er, but I be­lieve he is try­ing to show the House very clearly that link­ing the is­sue of fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood with fund­ing for all of gov­ern­ment is a non­starter here in the Sen­ate and that the Sen­ate does not want to see gov­ern­ment shut­down,” Collins said.

Collins said she is hope­ful for a clean, but very short-term con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion that would ex­pire as early as Novem­ber, to give her­self and fel­low mem­bers of the Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee time to draft new fund­ing bills and pass them through both cham­bers be­fore the end of the year.

Mc­Con­nell has said re­peatedly that a con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion that de­funds Planned Par­ent­hood would be in­cred­ibly dif­fi­cult to pass through the up­per cham­ber and would cer­tainly not earn the pres­id­ent’s sig­na­ture, warn­ing mem­bers of his party from trap­ping them­selves in a box canyon over fed­er­al fund­ing yet again.

But the vote will al­low Re­pub­lic­ans to go on the re­cord once again as op­pos­ing fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood, which has been at the cen­ter of con­tro­ver­sial video tapes al­leging that it has sold fetal tis­sue for profit. Re­pub­lic­ans will vote on the con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion along­side a Tues­day pro­ced­ur­al move to pass a fed­er­al 20-week abor­tion ban, just as the pope vis­its the Cap­it­ol on Thursday.

“We should stand for our prin­ciples, and our prin­ciples should not be sur­ren­der­ing to the Demo­crats,” Sen. Ted Cruz told re­port­ers Tues­day. Cruz has ral­lied con­ser­vat­ives in both cham­bers and re­li­gious lead­ers over the past few months in op­pos­i­tion to Planned Par­ent­hood, warn­ing Mc­Con­nell and oth­er con­gres­sion­al lead­ers that he will op­pose any gov­ern­ment-fund­ing meas­ure that provides money to the health or­gan­iz­a­tion.

When clo­ture on the Planned Par­ent­hood meas­ure fails, as soon as Thursday, Mc­Con­nell is ex­pec­ted to bring up a clean fund­ing bill that would keep the gov­ern­ment’s doors open through later this year, with sup­port from Demo­crats and a likely ma­jor­ity of Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans, who are fear­ful of earn­ing blame for an­oth­er gov­ern­ment shut­down in just a two-year span.

Wheth­er that can pass the House—where con­ser­vat­ives are sim­il­arly press­ing to de­fund Planned Par­ent­hood be­fore fund­ing the gov­ern­ment—ahead of the Sept. 30 dead­line re­mains an open ques­tion.

House Re­pub­lic­ans have a con­fer­ence meet­ing sched­uled for Fri­day where they will again dis­cuss how to tackle fed­er­al fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood and a short-term spend­ing meas­ure. 

Mc­Con­nell filed the le­gis­la­tion just minutes after Demo­crats again blocked a fund­ing bill for the De­fense De­part­ment, after prom­ising all sum­mer to block any fund­ing bills un­til Re­pub­lic­ans agreed to enter in­to ne­go­ti­ations to raise spend­ing caps on nondefense spend­ing for next year.

Mc­Con­nell blamed Demo­crats for tak­ing the coun­try to the brink of a shut­down over their “de­mands for more debt and more bur­eau­cracy” after fil­ing the con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion Tues­day, ask­ing Demo­crats to work with them to keep the gov­ern­ment open and “hit the pause but­ton” on Planned Par­ent­hood’s fund­ing while Con­gress in­vest­ig­ates the or­gan­iz­a­tion.

“Amer­ic­ans want Demo­crats to now work with us re­spons­ibly to get our coun­try get out of a situ­ation that they in fact have en­gin­eered. The bill be­fore us would do that,” Mc­Con­nell said. “It would keep the gov­ern­ment open through the fall while ad­her­ing to the bi­par­tis­an spend­ing levels already agreed to by both parties.”

Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id cri­ti­cized Mc­Con­nell for hold­ing yet an­oth­er vote on Planned Par­ent­hood fund­ing, the third this year, be­fore mov­ing onto a clean con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion. “This is yet an­oth­er case of the Re­pub­lic­an lead­er just wast­ing time be­fore we ad­dress the real deal,” he said, not­ing that the new Re­pub­lic­an ma­jor­ity in the Sen­ate has held “more re-votes than any oth­er ma­jor­ity party in the his­tory of our coun­try.”