Senate Makes Progress on Avoiding Government Shutdown

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bill to Extend US Spending Authority Blocked in Senate.

Washington — Democrats and several Republicans banded together on Thursday to block legislation to keep the government open over a contentious, GOP-led effort to strip Planned Parenthood of its taxpayer funding. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate’s top Republican moved swiftly to avoid a government shutdown in six days, pushing legislation that would keep agencies operating without a contentious fight over money for Planned Parenthood.House Republicans, in a letter sent last month to the chairman of the House Committee on Health Care, said they wanted to investigate “whether Oregon’s tax dollars sent to Planned Parenthood and the body parts [from abortions] transferred are being used for legal purposes.” In the 2013-15 budget cycle, the state gave Planned Parenthood about $3.6 million, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office.In a 47 to 53 vote, the Senate failed to pass a continuing resolution Thursday that would have temporarily funded the government while freezing Planned Parenthood funding for a year. Of that, $1 million was for “pregnancy termination services.” Here’s how it works: Women who get insurance through the Oregon Health Plan are covered for a variety of medical procedures.

The bill would also have withheld funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading provider of abortion services; that stipulation was demanded by social conservatives. “In just six days, the U.S. government will shut down,” said Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. “Republicans have decided once again to place partisan ideological agendas over the well-being of the nation.” “Let us agree that the scandal surrounding Planned Parenthood is deeply, deeply unsettling,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. Conservative lawmakers in both chambers have been pushing to defund the organization after videos emerged allegedly showing doctors discussing harvesting fetal body parts for profit. But he’s widely expected to begin debate on a bipartisan stopgap spending bill free of the Planned Parenthood dispute that would pass with Democratic support next week and be signed into law by President Barack Obama. “I think we all know we’re going to have a clean” continuing resolution, said Sen.

Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, using the common congressional term. “The House is going to figure out what the House is going to do but we can’t shut down the government.” Honoring public health workers for their efforts to combat Ebola, the president said such organizations “need support from Congress in order continue to excel in their mission so I hope that Congress chooses to keep our government open and operating so that heroes like this can keep working.” Planned Parenthood has long been targeted by Republicans, but their efforts have intensified after the release of secretly recorded videos that raised questions about its handling of fetal tissue provided to scientific researchers. Earlier this week, McConnell said he would bring up a “clean” temporary spending bill with continued funding for Planned Parenthood if the measure to exclude such funding was defeated. That bill is viewed as an unconscionable surrender by conservatives like Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination next year. “We should honor the promises we made to the voters,” said Cruz. “We have Republican majorities in both houses [of Congress]. And on Thursday, the White House issued a statement that Obama would veto it anyway, arguing that it “would limit access to healthcare for women, men and families across the nation, and disproportionately impact low-income individuals”.

It is my hope that [congressional Republican] leadership will actually lead.” That sentiment is shared by a bloc of Republicans in the House of Representatives rumored to be plotting to oust Speaker John Boehner over what they see as the speaker’s reluctance to take a hard line with Democrats on issues like Planned Parenthood. Eleven GOP House freshmen – several facing difficult re-election races next year in Democratic-leaning districts – say they oppose a shutdown confrontation.

A “Dear Colleague” letter by New York representative Elise Stefanik and Pennsylvania representative Ryan Costello promises to “avoid repeating the mistakes of the past”, a reference to the GOP-sparked 2013 shutdown over implementation of the healthcare law. Other GOP freshmen from conservative districts, such as representatives Ken Buck of Colorado and Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, have signed on to a more confrontational strategy, along with prominent conservatives like representatives Jim Jordan and Mick Mulvaney. Conservative hard-liners including Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, were summoned to Boehner’s suite but would not comment on his plans.

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