Senate Republicans proposed avoiding a U.S. government shutdown by providing financing through Dec. 11 while stripping funding from Planned Parenthood for a year.
That plan was immediately rejected by the chamber’s top Democrat. Republican leaders of the House and Senate have said they won’t shut the government down over Planned Parenthood when funding expires Sept. 30.
The stopgap measure announced Tuesday would redirect about $235 million from Planned Parenthood, the women’s reproductive health organization, to community health centers.
The proposal “represents the best option to keep the government funded” and would “press the pause button” while Congress investigates Planned Parenthood, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said on the Senate floor.
The vote on Planned Parenthood would be “another re-run vote” that has failed before, said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. “How many times does the Republican leader need to return to this same show vote?”
“We are running out of time,” second-ranking Senate Republican John Cornyn of Texas said earlier Tuesday. He said the chamber may need to work this weekend.
McConnell said earlier this month that while he supports defunding Planned Parenthood, further efforts to take funds from the organization would be “exercises in futility” because President Barack Obama wouldn’t sign such a measure.
House Speaker John Boehner has been unable to resolve a dispute with several dozen conservative Republicans who say they are willing to force a government shutdown if defunding of Planned Parenthood isn’t linked to a federal spending bill. He scheduled a private meeting for House Republicans on Friday to discuss strategy.
Senate Democrats say they’ll block any measure that defunds Planned Parenthood, the women’s reproductive health service. Conservatives are outraged by undercover videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing reimbursement for providing tissue from aborted fetuses to researchers.
The organization has said it doesn’t sell fetal tissue for profit, and instead receives the cost of collecting and delivering it. Bloomberg Philanthropies provides financial support for Planned Parenthood.
“This next week is going to be a battle between the problem solvers, of which there are individuals in both political parties, against those who are looking for an ideological trophy,” Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, told Bloomberg reporters and editors in New York on Monday.
On Sept. 18, the House voted for a separate bill to block federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year, though the action didn’t satisfy some Republicans who are prepared to shut down the federal government over the issue.
The Senate may work during the weekend if Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, and other conservatives seek procedural delays.
Cruz, who is running for president, said Tuesday, “The only way to actually defund Planned Parenthood is to include it on must-pass legislation” like a government spending bill.
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain said he wants to defund Planned Parenthood but would vote to keep the government open.
“Too much damage was done,” McCain said, referring to the 16-day partial shutdown in 2013 prompted by a Republican effort to defund Obamacare. “Overwhelmingly the people rejected the shutdown of the government. They don’t like the government but they don’t want it shut down.”
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