Mitch McConnell readies plan to avert shutdown; Federal government runs out of money Sept. 30
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With just nine days before a possible government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing to move on a strategy this week that would fund the government through early December, according to several Republicans familiar with the leader’s emerging plan.
McConnell hopes his moves will overcome demands from conservatives who want to link their effort to defund Planned Parenthood with must-pass spending legislation.
“I don’t think it’s been finally decided but to me it’s become increasingly apparent that the Senate is going to have to move,” said the No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, about the need for the Senate to move ahead on a plan while House GOP leaders sort out their next moves.
McConnell is expected to begin the process to consider the first of two bills Tuesday. It would bar money for Planned Parenthood, something many Republicans want to do in response to the recently revealed videos released by an anti-abortion group that showed workers for the organization discussing selling fetal tissue for scientific research. Planned Parenthood denies it did anything illegal and points out the videos are edited.
Democrats are expected easily to block that bill from getting the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate, but McConnell hopes its defeat will send a clear signal to agitated right-wing Republicans in the House, and some in the Senate, to abandon their push to tie Planned Parenthood money to the short term government funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, or CR.
That first vote is likely to come Thursday, the Republicans said. That’s the same day Pope Francis makes his historic visit to Capitol Hill.
The second bill would also fund the government through early December, but leave the Planned Parenthood funding intact. It is expected to pass the Senate with the support of Democrats and many Republicans who are wary of shutting the government over the Planned Parenthood issue.
Cornyn said Senate Republicans are “trying to figure out how to advance the pro-life agenda without attaching it to a failed strategy like a shutdown.”
House Republican leaders are still struggling with their own path forward, and are hoping they can convince their rank-and-file members to back a short-term funding bill that doesn’t include the provision to defund Planned Parenthood. Instead, GOP leaders are urging members to back a strategy to address the controversy over Planned Parenthood through a budget process known as “reconciliation” that would allow them to pass a bill to defund the group by a simple majority in the Senate and avoid a Democratic filibuster.
House Speaker John Boehner faces possible rebellion from some conservative members who are unhappy the GOP leader has not taken a stronger line against Planned Parenthood on the spending bill. Boehner and other leaders have emphasized the investigations launched by several congressional committees into Planned Parenthood’s practices. The House Oversight Committee is potentially holding a hearing featuring testimony from Planned Parenthood for next Tuesday, the day before government funding is set to expire..
Since House GOP leaders know they have limited time to act — federal funding runs out next Wednesday at midnight – they passed a so-called “same day” rule allowing the House to expedite taking up a bill once they finalize a strategy. The House could take up the Senate’s so-called “clean” stopgap funding measure, or move their own version.