A plan is emerging from Senate Republican leadership to avoid a government shutdown while still allowing hardliners to have their vote on defunding Planned Parenthood, according to various media reports.
Staff from Senate offices on both side of aisle confirmed to the Washington Post a route being mapped out in which the Senate would first vote on a short-term spending bill that blocked funding to Planned Parenthood, which would presumably be filibustered by Democrats. Then, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would bring up stop-gap legislation that would maintain government funding — including for Planned Parenthood — at current levels for a few more months, according to the Post report.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the majority whip, seemed to nod to such a strategy, speaking to reporters on Monday.
“I don’t think it’s been finally decided, but to me it becomes increasingly apparent that the Senate is probably going to have to move,” he said, according to The Hill, pointing to the fact that the House will not be getting back to work until Thursday.
“We all understand that trying to figure out how to advance the pro-life agenda without attaching it to a failed strategy like a shutdown is important, and I think we’re trying to thread that needle,” Cornyn said.
Already, the Senate has scheduled a vote this week on a 20-week-abortion ban that is expected to be blocked by Democrats. Anti-abortion votes held in the House last week failed to assuage the conservatives pushing for a government shutdown, who have also expressed skepticism about a plan floated by House leadership to defund Planned Parenthood through a procedural maneuver known as “budget reconciliation” down the road while maintaining the funding in a short-term spending bill.
Thirty or so conservative House members have vowed to oppose any spending measure that includes funding for Planned Parenthood, which receives about $500 million for non-abortive services. The deadline for lawmakers to pass budget legislation to keep the government open is Sept. 30.