Senate Fast-Tracks Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood

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Senate Fast-Tracks Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood

Emily Crockett

Sen. Rand Paul and his anti-choice colleague Sen. Ted Cruz, both 2016 presidential contenders, have pushed to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood in recent days.

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Friday started a fast-track process to skip the normal committee procedure and make sure that Sen. Rand Paul’s bill to defund Planned Parenthood will be brought up for a floor vote.

Paul (R-KY) and his anti-choice colleague Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), both 2016 presidential contenders, have aggressively pushed to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood in recent days, citing misleading, heavily edited video footage released by an anti-choice front group.

Both Paul and Cruz were hoping to attach amendments to a must-pass highway funding bill to defund Planned Parenthood, but McConnell effectively put a stop to that when he used a process called “filling the tree” to block further votes on amendments.

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In response, earlier on Friday, Cruz had accused McConnell of lying about making a deal with Democrats to attach a different measure to the highway bill, and suggested that he was trying to avoid a tough vote on abortion issues.

“There are a host of amendments that the American people are focused on, things like defunding Planned Parenthood after the gruesome video,” Cruz said. “The majority leader doesn’t want to vote on that. That’s actually something the American people are focused on.”

No date for a vote on Paul’s bill has been set yet.

The videos that have Republicans up in arms show high-level Planned Parenthood employees discussing their fetal tissue donation program, which is legal and performed with the consent of patients.

The videos are misleadingly edited to suggest that the employees are “haggling” over the price of fetal organs to make a profit, but the full video shows them repeatedly emphasizing that any fees are to cover costs associated with tissue donation and are not for profit.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) dismissed the videos as a phony controversy this week, and House Democrats have called for the Attorney General to investigate the Center for Medical Progress, the anti-choice group behind the videos, for laws they may have broken.

Progressives are urging more Democrats to take a strong, proactive stance to defend Planned Parenthood against Republican attacks.