The U.S. House of Representatives voted Friday to freeze federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading reproductive-health provider, in the wake of widely debunked sting videos released by an anti-abortion group. The House vote was largely along party lines, with only three Republicans voting "no" on the legislation. While this bill does not necessarily defund Planned Parenthood for good, it is a way for the GOP to prolong its crusade against the national family-planning organization, which is already barred from using federal funding for abortion in most situations.
In an effort to avoid an impending government shutdown, the House voted to freeze funding to Planned Parenthood for one year, so the investigation into the organization's fetal-tissue donation program can continue. The legislation stipulates that if Planned Parenthood decides to stop providing legal abortions, the funding will be returned. So far, Planned Parenthood has not been found of any wrongdoing, and no criminal charges have been brought against the organization or its staff.
Friday's vote is symbolic: Senate Democrats have promised to block any bill defunding Planned Parenthood. President Obama has also repeatedly warned Congress that he would veto any bill defunding Planned Parenthood, and his administration released a statement on Thursday calling Republican threats to shutdown the government over health care "a game of chicken with our economy that we cannot accept."
Still, the Senate is expected to vote on a bill defunding Planned Parenthood by early next week. Although Republicans have a majority in the Senate, they do not have the 60 votes needed to pass the legislation.
But like the House, the Senate has been eyeing legislation to defund Planned Parenthood for a while now. According to Politico, the Senate vote will likely occur next Tuesday, when the chamber had also planned to discuss a bill outlawing abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization age. However, most Senate Republicans already know a spending bill cutting funding from Planned Parenthood won't make it out of the chamber.
"I think there will be a vote on [defunding Planned Parenthood]. I just don't think Democrats will let that pass," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told Politico. "We will vote on defunding (Planned Parenthood) ... in some form or another."
Many Senate Republicans, too, are wary about causing a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been one of the ones leading the charge, reportedly sending letters to his colleagues urging them to oppose any spending bill that gives money to Planned Parenthood.
In a statement on Friday, Planned Parenthood Action Fund Vice President Eric Ferrero praised the Senate and the Obama administration for defending the family-planning organization. "These bills are a callous attempt to insert politics into women's health, and we're grateful that the Senate and the president will stop them from becoming law," Ferrero said. "Millions of Americans rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and other critical preventive care."