Senate Prepares to Kick Off Planned Parenthood Shutdown Fight

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Senate Prepares to Kick Off Planned Parenthood Shutdown Fight

Emily Crockett

Mitch McConnell offered up a bill on Tuesday that would fund the government, but defund Planned Parenthood. The bill is expected to receive a vote on Thursday.

See more of our coverage on recent attacks against Planned Parenthood here.

Although he has publicly admitted that trying to shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood is a bad strategy that won’t work as long as President Obama is in office, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is setting up a vote to do just that.

McConnell offered up a bill on Tuesday that would fund the government, but defund Planned Parenthood. The bill is expected to receive a vote on Thursday immediately after Pope Francis addresses a joint session of Congress.

Attempting to defund Planned Parenthood using a spending bill, as McConnell’s bill does, could lead to a government shutdown. Obama is expected to veto any bill defunding the women’s health organization, and the government will shut down on October 1 if Congress can’t pass a budget bill that the president will sign.

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McConnell’s bill is a continuing resolution (CR), a temporary funding bill. Democrats in the Senate are almost certain to filibuster the bill, not just because it defunds Planned Parenthood but also because it increases military spending by $13 billion without increasing domestic spending.

Both military and domestic spending were slashed across the board in 2013’s sequester budget cuts, which Democrats in Congress have vowed to see lifted before they will support any spending bills.

McConnell has said that the “cold hard reality” for the GOP is that it cannot defund Planned Parenthood as long as Obama is in office, and other members of the GOP leadership, like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), also have no appetite for another shutdown fight.

But right-wing members of Congress have called for defunding in response to deceptively edited videos released by an anti-choice front group, the Center for Medical Progress.

The most likely outcome is that McConnell will introduce the defunding bill, wait until it inevitably fails to break a Democratic filibuster, and then introduce a “clean” CR that does not defund Planned Parenthood.

If that clean bill passes the Senate, it’s uncertain whether Boehner can get enough votes to pass it in the House. The right-wing House Freedom Caucus has vowed to oppose any spending bill that funds Planned Parenthood.