- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he will push a short-term spending bill that funds the government through Dec. 11 and redirects Planned Parenthood funding to other health centers amid controversy over the organization’s abortion practice.

Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, set up a procedural vote on the measure for Thursday, or after Congress hears from Pope Francis in a joint session, although Democrats will likely block the GOP bid.

“I know Democrats have already blocked virtually every bill to fund the government this year, but I’m asking them to allow the Senate to fund the government now,” Mr. McConnell said.

The resolution authored by Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, Mississippi Republican, would allow Congress to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1 and provide a 10-week window to negotiate the rest of the appropriations bills for fiscal 2016.

The Republican resolution stays within mandated spending caps overall but uses an overseas war fund to boost defense by $13 billion over what President Obama has requested.

Yet it also redirects $235 million from Planned Parenthood to other community health clinics as congressional Republicans investigate the organization over undercover videos that appear to show organization officials negotiating over the sale of fetal body parts.

A McConnell spokesman said the Planned Parenthood provision is identical to defunding language the House passed last week.

Senate Democrats have objected to GOP attempts to defund the group as an attack on the broader set of services the organization provides to women. They’ve prodded Republicans in the majority to negotiate a spending package without add-ons related to Planned Parenthood.

Democrats on the House side accused the GOP of pushing Capitol Hill to the brink of its second government shutdown in three years.

“The prospect of the House majority’s dithering and internal squabbling pushing hard-working American families into another politically-driven, economically damaging government shutdown is scandalous, and illustrates why the public holds this institution in such low regard,” said Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

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