The Senate vote to defund Planned Parenthood fell through on Monday, leaving many wondering what will happen to organization next — and whether Republicans will soon try again to take money away from it. The Republican push to defund the women's health organization came after the release of several undercover videos which anti-abortion activists allege to be proof that it is illegally selling fetal body parts and tissue. The cause has been named as a top priority for the GOP when Congress returns from the summer.
The vote, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, needed 60 votes to pass, and although the Senate has a Republican majority, all 54 Republicans and six Democrats were needed to support the motion. The bill failed 53-46. But this stand alone vote is unlikely to have satiated Republicans who are calling for defunding.
Planned Parenthood, which reportedly took in $1.3 billion last year, received at least $528 million in government funding and Medicaid reimbursements, according to The Washington Post. However, none of the federal money went to funding abortion procedures like the ones discussed in the videos released by The Center For Medical Progress. The Hyde Amendment, which has been in effect since 1976, does not allow federal funding for abortion procedures, except in incidences of incest, rape, or the mother's life being at risk. In addition, Fox News reports that of the one million abortion procedures conducted yearly, Planned Parenthood only provided about 328,000, or less than half.
One way that Republicans could force the issue in the next Congressional session would be to attach an amendment to a funding bill that must be passed by September 30 in order to keep the federal government open. It's not a new tactic — a 2011 debate over Planned Parenthood threatened a government shutdown, and in 2013, Republicans trying to block the Affordable Care Act succeeded in closing down the government temporarily. And although McConnell has said the party will discuss how to fund the government after the summer recess, Senator Ted Cruz, the firebrand behind the 2013 resistance, is supporting the defunding effort.
Last week, Cruz told Politico that he would support any effort to defund the organization, and 18 Republican representatives from the House reportedly told party leaders they “cannot and will not support any funding resolution . . . that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood,” according to The Washington Post.
Even though the tactic failed at blocking the ACA in 2013, an October 1 shutdown could happen. Stan Collender from Forbes estimates the likelihood of an impending closure to be 60 percent, and as Congress will only have 10 legislative days to agree on a bill or continuing resolution by the deadline, it's likely that there will be a battle. In addition, according to Fox News, the White House has said it would block defunding efforts, which may include not signing a finished bill that lacks provisions for Planned Parenthood.
“I support any legislation that will defund Planned Parenthood. But I don’t think you start out with your objective to shut down government," said Rand Paul, who sponsored the Senate bill for Monday's vote told CNN. "I mean, if President Obama wants to shut down government because he doesn’t get funds for Planned Parenthood, that would be President Obama’s determination to shut down government.”