A small group of committed anti-abortion Republicans led by presidential candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is threatening to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding with a bill that must pass by Sept. 30, Politico reported. The Senate has already scheduled a roll call vote aimed at defunding the women's health organization, but Cruz calls that a "legislative show vote." He told Politico he would support "any and all efforts to defund Planned Parenthood," and didn't rule out using the same tactics that led to a government shutdown over Obamacare funding back in 2013.
In 2011, Republicans tried to defund Planned Parenthood using the same government spending bill, but that measure failed. And Cruz is not the only Republican in Congress who has been motivated by a set of undercover videos with Planned Parenthood officials. Eighteen Republicans in the House of Representatives wrote a letter to Speaker John Boehner saying they "will not support any funding resolution" which includes money for Planned Parenthood.
The videos, which Rachel Maddow points out on MSNBC, offer no evidence that anyone at Planned Parenthood has broken any laws. But the videos' existence and the conversations included on them about what procedures would be used to salvage fetal tissue for donation, and the costs involved, have galvanized the anti-abortion wing of the GOP.
In the videos, the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress tries to convey the impression that two Planned Parenthood doctors were negotiating the sale of fetal tissue, which is illegal under federal law. The two doctors repeatedly state that they're not seeking profit but rather looking to help centers pay for the costs associated with donating the fetal tissue.
The government shutdown in 2013, also spearheaded by Ted Cruz, went into effect in October of that year, and lasted for about two weeks before a deal was reached. Republicans attempted to strip funding for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare,
Before that, the last time the government shut down was during the Clinton administration, as Republicans in Congress disagreed with the president over federal spending levels. There were two shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996, when the House of Representatives was led by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich.
So do Republicans have the determination, or more importantly, the votes, to effect another government shutdown, this time over Planned Parenthood? Their attempt to do so in 2011 failed, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that "overwhelmingly, the Democrats will not support" a spending bill that would defund Planned Parenthood, The Hill reported. Whether that's enough to avert a shutdown and keep the women's health organization funded remains to be seen.
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