House Democrats would rally to sustain President Obama's veto if the Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood were to reach his desk, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vowed Thursday.
That would set the stage for veto override votes in both chambers.
Pelosi, for her part, is confident House Democrats would block that Republican effort in the lower chamber.
"Yes, we could sustain the veto," Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol.
The Republicans have long-fought to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood because some affiliates of the group provide abortion services. Critics have been recently energized by a series of undercover videos, released this summer by anti-abortion-rights activists, suggesting the group has profited illegally from the sale of fetal tissue for research purposes.
The issue has put GOP leaders in a pickle, caught between conservatives insisting the Planned Parenthood language be a part of any government spending measure and Obama's promised veto if such a provision is included. If the impasse isn't broken by Oct. 1, large parts of the government will shut down — a scenario that Republican leaders, who were blamed for the 2013 shutdown, want to avoid.
House Republicans gathered behind closed doors Wednesday night and again Thursday morning to discuss their strategy on the Planned Parenthood vote. Lawmakers emerging from Thursday's meeting said GOP leaders are trying to dissuade conservatives from threatening a shutdown over the Planned Parenthood language, citing polls indicating that the GOP would again take the political fall if the government is shuttered again.
After the meeting, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declined to specify the Republicans' strategy, but mentioned reconciliation as a possible way to advance the Planned Parenthood measure. That move would prevent Democrats in the Senate from filibustering the proposal, allowing Senate Republicans to pass it with a simple majority.
“There are a lot of steps in this process,” Boehner said. “You will see a lot of steps in the coming weeks, and certainly reconciliation is a distinct possibility as well.”
Pelosi on Thursday said the GOP's attack on Planned Parenthood is a proxy fight for the Republicans' underlying goal: To shut down the government.
"Shutting down government is the goal. Defunding Planned Parenthood is the excuse. But it's a double purpose for them," she charged. "So one way or another, under the appropriations process or the reconciliation process, we're going to have to face a presidential veto, and we will sustain the veto."