Senate Rejects Government Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood

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Senate Rejects Government Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood

Emily Crockett

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to block a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood for one year, but the clock is still ticking on a potential government shutdown.

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

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to block a bill that would fund the federal government through December 11, but defund Planned Parenthood for one year.

A majority of senators voted to block the bill, and the final vote was 52 to 47 against advancing it.

In many Senate filibusters, a proposal “loses” despite having majority support because the majority wasn’t big enough to reach the filibuster-proof 60 votes.

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That wasn’t the case for this measure, which attracted eight Republican “no” votes (Dean Heller of Nevada, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Susan Collins of Maine, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire), and only one Democratic “yes” vote (Joe Manchin of West Virginia).

The bill was the opening salvo in a potential government shutdown fight. Lawmakers are racing against the clock to pass a budget bill before September 30 to avoid a shutdown.

Some right-wing Republicans, notably 2016 presidential hopeful Ted Cruz (R-TX) and members of the House Freedom Caucus, have been militant about the idea that Planned Parenthood should receive no federal funding. They point to unproven allegations in a series of deceptively edited, undercover videos that Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue for profit.

Numerous state and federal investigations of Planned Parenthood have so far uncovered no wrongdoing. The attack videos, made by the anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), were released in coordination with GOP legislators.

This isn’t the first time Republicans have used this tactic to make a “Tea Party political football” out of women’s health, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said on the Senate floor.

“These shutdown threats will not work,” Murray said. “They didn’t work in 2011, when House Republicans tried to defund Planned Parenthood in the budget at the last minute. They didn’t work in 2013, when extreme members of the GOP were dead-set on repealing Obamacare. And they will not work today.”

The Obama administration issued a veto threat against the budget proposal ahead of the vote.

The bill contains “highly objectionable provisions that advance a narrow ideological agenda,” a White House statement said, and “would limit access to health care for women, men, and families across the Nation, and disproportionately impact low-income individuals.”

Following the failed procedural vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who did not favor the strategy of trying to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood, filed another short-term spending bill.

That new bill funds Planned Parenthood, and a vote on the measure is expected early next week.

Permanently defunding Planned Parenthood would cost the government $130 million over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. A one-year defunding measure would likely come at the cost of more unwanted pregnancies and reduced access to health care for up to 630,000 people.