WASHINGTON – A procedural vote in the Senate on legislation that would have barred all federal funds for Planned Parenthood failed on Monday.
The vote was 53-46, meaning the measure failed the get the 60 votes needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster on bringing the bill up for debate.
Conservatives in both the House and Senate are urging their leaders to include a provision to defund Planned Parenthood on any upcoming bill to fund the government this fall.
A debate on some type of short-term spending bill is expected before the end of September, when federal agencies run out of money.
Planned Parenthood has come under intense scrutiny after an anti-abortion group released a series of videos it says shows that the nonprofit group is making money off of the sale of fetal tissue, a practice the group denies.
The battle over barring federal money for the group will shift next to the legislation to fund the government this fall.
Federal agencies run out of money at the end of September, and Congress is expected to take up some type of short-term spending bill next month.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest, appearing on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday, said that he has not viewed the videos. But he added, “what the President has said is that Planned Parenthood provides valuable services, health care services for men and women across the country. He would veto any legislation that tried to advance wholesale defunding for Planned Parenthood.”
Republicans on Capitol Hill have clashed with President Barack Obama over federal money for Planned Parenthood before.
In 2011, House Republicans passed a spending bill that stripped money for Planned Parenthood, and the fight over the issue came close to causing a government shutdown. Right before the deadline, House Speaker John Boehner negotiated a compromise that didn’t include a defunding provision.
GOP Sen. Rand Paul, who pressed Senate leaders for the vote on Planned Parenthood this week, was reluctant to draw a line in the sand.
“I support any legislation that will defund Planned Parenthood. But (I) don’t think you start out with your objective to shut down government,” the Kentucky senator told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday,
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, also a Kentucky Republican, declined to rule out attaching a provision to the spending bill in September.
“We’re going to discuss how to fund the government after the recess,” he told reporters last week.
Boehner has emphasized that multiple congressional committees are launching investigations into the videos and said he is awaiting more facts before deciding any next steps.