It’s a start…..
The House voted Friday to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood for a year and curb some abortion practices, in the chamber’s first legislative response to videos showing the abortion provider’s tissue harvesting practices.
The Planned Parenthood “de-fund” bill passed 241-187, on a nearly party-line vote.
Hanging over the debate, though, was the possibility of a government shutdown showdown. Republican leaders brought the legislation to the floor as they try to address lawmakers’ outrage over the videos. Some conservatives originally wanted to demand Planned Parenthood be de-funded as part of a must-pass government budget bill; House leaders tried a different tack Friday with the two bills, which are not tied to the overall budget.
The stand-alone measures, though, stand little chance of becoming law. The Senate has not yet acted on the issue. And the bills not only face opposition from most Democrats but veto threats from the White House.
That means some conservatives could still want to tie the issue to the budget package, as a means of leverage. Congress has until the end of the month to pass a new budget, or else parts of the government could again start to shutter, as happened in 2013.
On Friday, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., downplayed the chances of such drama.
“We will pass a bill that funds the government,” he told Fox News.
The bills approved Friday were a reaction to videos showing Planned Parenthood officials casually describing how they provide researchers with tissue from aborted fetuses. The anti-abortion activists who secretly recorded the videos say they show that Planned Parenthood is illegally profiting from organ sales. The organization says it’s broken no laws and is being victimized by deceitfully edited recordings.
“Anyone who watches those videos — they are horrific,” McCarthy told Fox News. “Aborting live babies for profit — why would anybody want to spend tax dollars for that?”
The first bill would block Planned Parenthood’s federal funds for a year. The other would impose criminal penalties on doctors who don’t try saving infants born alive during abortions.
The latter measure passed 248-177.
But with the overall government funding issue not resolved, Democrats once again have taken to accusing Republicans of playing games with the economy. The White House, in a statement released Thursday evening, said Obama called the shutdown threat “a game of chicken with our economy that we cannot accept.”