Senate fast tracks abortion bill

Senate Republicans on Wednesday fast-tracked a House-passed bill that would restrict abortions after 20 weeks. 

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Dems push for more money for opioid fight MORE (R-S.D.) completed the fast-track process, known as "Rule 14," which will allow the House bill to skip over the committee process and go straight to the Senate floor, where it can be brought up for a vote. 
 
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The decision to move the bill comes after Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Air Force makes criminal reporting changes after Texas massacre We need a better pathway for allowing civilians to move guns across state lines MORE (R-Texas) said late last week that the Senate would likely vote on a 20-week abortion ban this month. 
 
"Senator [Mitch] McConnell's [R-Ky.] already talked about some pro-life legislation he'll be filing for cloture on at the end of next week," he told reporters. 
 
That would mean that the Republican leader could tee up the abortion bill on Thursday, before the Senate leaves for the weekend, for a procedural vote early next week.
 
McConnell said earlier this year that the Senate would vote on the 20-week abortion bill, calling it "not only good news for pro-lifers, [but] good news for the entire country." 
 
The bill could, however, face an uphill battle to overcome the 60 votes needed to overcome a procedural hurdle and split Senate Republicans. 
 
 
Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteExplaining Democratic victories: It’s gun violence, stupid Trump voter fraud panel member fights back against critics Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada MORE (R-N.H.) and Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (R-Ill.), both of who are up for reelection in blue-leaning states, as well more moderate Republicans, including Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (R-Maine), have yet to sign the bill. 
 
But the vote could help take pressure off Republican leadership from conservative members who are demanding that a government spending bill cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, following a string of leaked videos showing the healthcare provider's staff discussing fetal tissue donation with undercover pro-life supporters. 
 
Cornyn told reporters on Tuesday that the 20-week abortion ban bill is "an important vote for us to have, as we continue the investigations that Senator [Chuck] Grassley [R-Iowa] in the Judiciary Committee and others have into whether Planned Parenthood violated existing laws." 
 
Lawmakers have until the end of the month to figure out how to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. 
 
Democrats have slammed Senate Majority Leader McConnell for moving to the abortion bill instead of starting negotiations on how to fund the government. 
 
"We should move on to something else," Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE (D-Nev.) said after McConnell scheduled another vote on Iran. "It should be the budget. It shouldn't be abortion."