After weeks of flailing by House GOP leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) put in motion his own plan to avoid a government shutdown.
McConnell Tuesday announced a vote late this week on a spending bill that would defund Planned Parenthood while increasing defense funding. That bill, scheduled for a vote on Thursday, is expected to be filibustered by Democrats. However, the GOP leadership reportedly hopes that once it fails, proving that Republicans lack the votes to defund Planned Parenthood, the Senate will be able to advance a short-term spending bill, known as a “clean” continuing resolution. It would maintain funding levels — including Planned Parenthood’s funding — around their current levels for a few more months while lawmakers hash out a larger budget deal.
“There’s going to be votes to defund Planned Parenthood. But I think given the president’s opposition and Democrats’ opposition, at some point I anticipate there will be a clean [continuing resolution],” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters, according to Politico. “But, that’s not the end of the fight over late-term abortions and over Planned Parenthood.”
The move came after the Senate Democrats filibustered a vote on a 20-week abortion ban earlier in the day. Other anti-abortion bills passed by the House last week would have likely met the same fate, so Republican leaders have been scrambling to find other ways to assuage hardline conservatives demanding a government shutdown if Planned Parenthood isn’t defunded.
The question is now whether the House will jump on board with the plan when it returns to work on Thursday, a week before the deadline for funding the government expires Sept. 30. House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) supporters have expressed concerns about a coup attempt if conservatives believe he has capitulated on Planned Parenthood.
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