This week: Can Congress avoid a shutdown?

Congress will race this week to pass a government spending bill by Wednesday night to avert a shutdown.

The Senate will take a procedural vote on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that includes funding for Planned Parenthood on Monday at 4:30 p.m., paving the way for the bill to be sent to the House by Tuesday.

The move comes after nearly every Democrat — and eight Republicans — blocked a short-term proposal that would have funded the government but defunded Planned Parenthood. Voting to defund the organization was widely expected to fail, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) telling reporters ahead of last week's vote: "I think we all know we're gonna do a clean CR." 

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats, saying that by backing Planned Parenthood they are "making a losing bet they will come to regret over the long-term." But he urged Republicans to support the "clean" spending bill, even though it funds the organization, adding that "the government will shut down next week if Congress doesn’t act." 

House Republicans will take up the stopgap measure free of policy riders this week before the deadline. It’s expected to pass with Democratic support and many GOP defections.

Rather than using the government funding bill as leverage, House GOP leaders plan to use a fast-track process known as reconciliation to try to defund Planned Parenthood. 

Using reconciliation would prevent Senate Democrats from filibustering it, all but ensuring that a funding bill blocking money for Planned Parenthood would reach the White House. However, it would likely face a veto threat from President Obama.

The House will also vote Tuesday on legislation authored by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) that would allow states to withhold Medicaid funding from providers that conduct abortions. 

House GOP leadership jockeying

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJohn Feehery: A political forest fire Trump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery MORE’s (R-Ohio) announcement that he will resign at the end of October stunned Capitol Hill on Friday, but it only took a few hours for Republicans to start gauging support from colleagues to run for leadership slots.

GOP leaders have not yet announced when the leadership elections will take place. 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appears to be in the strongest position to succeed Boehner as Speaker, though he has not officially said yet if he will run. Should McCarthy move up, and other members of the leadership run for promotions, the entire hierarchy could be up for grabs.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told House vote counters Friday evening that he will run for majority leader if McCarthy becomes Speaker, according to a source familiar with the call. 

This week could be the start of launching official candidacies for leadership slots, after lawmakers have had the weekend to discuss options with each other and leave town following Boehner’s surprise announcement. 

Iran sanctions

The House is expected to vote later in the week on a bill to prohibit lifting Iran sanctions as part of the nuclear deal unless the country pays court-ordered damages owed to terror victims.

Under the bill as introduced by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), the president would have to first certify to Congress that Iran has paid the damages. Consideration of the measure comes after Republicans were unable to overcome a Senate Democratic filibuster of a resolution disapproving of the Iran nuclear deal earlier this month. The House rejected the deal, but not enough Democrats joined the GOP to override a presidential veto.