House Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood as Shutdown Looms

House Republicans, as expected, passed two bills attacking Planned Parenthood.

September 18, 2015, 1:53 PM

— -- House Republicans, as expected, passed two bills attacking Planned Parenthood today in an attempt by party leaders to placate conservatives angling for a fight over the organization's funding that could end in a government shutdown.

Both votes were symbolic: The measures face an uphill battle in the Senate, given Democrats’ ability to filibuster.

The White House has said President Obama would veto both bills.

The first bill, from Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, would freeze federal funding to Planned Parenthood for a year while Congress continues investigating the organization. It passed in a party line vote, with 241 yeas, 187 nays, and 1 present vote.

"This is about ensuring that laws are followed, that American know how their money is being spent," Black said on the House floor.

The House also passed a measure, from Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, that would strengthen criminal penalties for doctors who refuse to treat babies that survive abortions.

But the elephant in the chamber is the coming deadline to fund the government.

Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass government funding. GOP leaders have just begun negotiations with Democratic leadership about a short-term measure and longer-term budget goals.

GOP leaders have all but said a clean funding measure is needed to keep the government open, and have worked to convince members that a shutdown would hurt the GOP, showing members polling data at a conference meeting Thursday morning.

But House conservatives still want to see a short-term measure that defunds Planned Parenthood -- which would lead to a shutdown -- and have threatened to force a vote on House Speaker John Boehner’s leadership. Boehner would likely survive a challenge, but Democrats could use it as an opportunity to exact government funding concessions.

House Republican leadership is hard at work on how to square that circle, but have not yet announced an official strategy.

The House has only a handful of legislative days before the end of the month, and is out next week until Wednesday, ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Washington.

Planned Parenthood receives roughly $500 million annually in federal funding -- only a portion of which would be cut off in a continuing resolution to fund the government. Republicans want to divert funding to community health organizations, which Democrats say are already overwhelmed.

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