By Alexander Bolton - 04/04/11 04:33 PM EDT
Forty-one senators have pledged to filibuster any bipartisan spending bill that includes an amendment to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, threatening an impasse with House conservatives.
The group, led by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), includes thirty-nine Democratic senators and two Independents, Sens. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
Congress is trying to reach an agreement on a spending bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. The current continuing resolution keeping the government operational runs through April 8.
The group outlined their opposition in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), asking Reid and McConnell to “stand with us against extreme proposals by some members of the House to eliminate support for women’s health and family planning programs and providers that service millions of women and families.”
H.R. 1, the package of spending cuts the House passed in February, would eliminate the Title X family planning program.
The lawmakers also said they would “oppose the provision in the House-passed continuing resolution that cuts Planned Parenthood health centers off from federal funds used to provide cancer screenings, birth control and other preventative health care services to three million Americans every year.”
“Without access to these services, many of these women will be unable to get preventive screenings, be at far greater risk for diseases such as cancer and will face more unintended pregnancies,” they wrote.
Several Republican senators have already voiced opposition to the House cuts.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) wrote a letter to Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and ranking member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) stating their belief that “Planned Parenthood provides vital services to those in need.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has also said she would oppose elimination of Title X funding.
Republicans are facing major pressure from conservative activists to keep the cuts intact. The anti-abortion-rights group Susan B. Anthony List released statements Monday from five potential Republican presidential candidates voicing their support for the amendment, proposed by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.).
Reid has already declared the Planned Parenthood rider would not be part of a final deal with the House on 2011 spending levels.
—Jordan Fabian contributed.
Correction: Sen. Thad Cochran did not sign the Murkowski letter on Planned Parenthood. Incorrect information appeared in an earlier version of this story.