McConnell says no defunding of Planned Parenthood this year

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a Kentucky TV station that there would be no effort to defund Planned Parenthood this year. 

McConnell claims the votes simply aren't there and that it would be counterproductive to try and attach a defunding amendment to the spending bill that must be passed by September 30 to avoid a government shiutdown.

It's McConnell's most definitive statement yet on his plans regarding the defunding of Planned Parenthood and it is likely to start a war with conservatives in the House and Senate.

Washington Examiner:

Speaking to WYMT Television in his home state of Kentucky, McConnell said the pending "battle" over government funding would not include a provision to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood.

The organization has been under fire in recent weeks after undercover videos showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal body parts. Abortion watchdog group Center for Medical Progress released a new video Tuesday, which is likely to stir anger among conservative lawmakers eager to strip taxpayer funding provided to Planned Parenthood.

But it won't happen in the Senate, McConnell said.

"The president made it very clear he is not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood," McConnell told WYMT. "That's another issue that awaits a new president."

McConnell said the GOP simply lacks the votes to pass such a measure, signaling his view that there is no way conservatives will get their way on the matter while President Obama is in the White House.

Republican leaders and leadership aides have repeatedly hinted they will not engage in a shutdown fight with Democrats, which in the past has damaged the party's standing in the polls.

In August, McConnell said he'd exclude a Planned Parenthood provision from a measure to fund the government, which must pass by Sept. 30 to avoid a shutdown.

He pointed to past attempts by Republicans to pass controversial provisions by attaching them to spending legislation, all of which ended with the GOP sinking in the polls.

"This is a tactic that has been tried going back to the 90s and it always has the same ending — that the focus is on the government shutdown and not on the underlying issue that is being protested." McConnell said in August.

A new poll released Monday by Quinnipiac University found that a plurality of Americans would again blame the Republican Party for a government closure that resulted from spending gridlock.

The right is going to want a vote even if there's no chance of passage. They want to put Democrats - and Republicans - on the record as supporting an organization that makes money off of selling fetal body parts. Can they still get a vote?

It's possible. There are some parliamentary tricks that supporters of defunding can use to force a floor vote. But as long as McConnell controls the gavel, it's a longshot at best.

The only other avenue of protest open to defunding advocates would be joining with liberals in the Senate to vote down the government spending measure. It might shut down the government, but defunding advocates see that as a small price to pay.

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