Senate women threaten shutdown over Planned Parenthood rider

A defiant group of Senate women said Friday they'll oppose any spending bill that would affect reproductive health funding, which Republicans have targeted for steep cuts.

The nine lawmakers — all Democrats — said the politically charged Planned Parenthood provision has no place in legislation to fund the government, and warned Republicans that they'll shut down the government before they'll cut women's healthcare services.

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"We are not going to throw women under the bus to give them an agreement to keep this government open," Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayWeek ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets Policymaking commission offers a glimmer of hope in hyper-partisan Washington Dems call on DeVos to work with CFPB to protect student borrowers MORE (D-Wash.) said during a press conference at the Capitol.

"We are determined to draw the line in the sand," Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTrump riles Dems with pick for powerful EPA job Pelosi's chief of staff stepping down Time is now to address infrastructure needs MORE (D-Calif.) added. "There are moments when you must do that, and this is one of those moments."

As part of their bill to fund the federal government through September, House Republicans eliminated all $317 million in funding for the Title X program, a national reproductive health initiative enacted by President Nixon in 1970. Republicans also attached a long list of policy-based amendments, known as "riders," including one to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds from any source, even those outside the realm of Title X. That bill was shot down in the Senate.

Planned Parenthood receives about one-fourth of all Title X funding. Roughly 90 percent of its funding goes toward preventive care, according to the organization.

“More than 5 million women use these clinics every year, and one of them could be my granddaughter,” Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight MORE (D-Nev.) said Friday.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said the GOP plan would hurt women's health.
 
“It's an outrage to shut down the government over an extreme proposal that would deny millions of women Pap tests, breast cancer screenings and birth control," she said in a statement.

A decades-old law, called the Hyde amendment, bars the federal funding of abortion. But conservatives argue that, because money is fungible, there's no real way to segregate the private dollars dedicated to abortion services and the federal dollars backing other areas of care.

"They are abortion mills — period," Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said Friday in reference to Planned Parenthood clinics.

Republicans claim negotiations are being held up because there is no final number for spending cuts. When asked about the policy riders Friday, Speaker John John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE (R-Ohio) said "almost all" of them have been resolved.

But Democrats are accusing Republicans of using the looming government shutdown as an excuse to push through long-held ideological beliefs.

Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenate energy bill is misguided gift to Trump’s dirty fossil fuel agenda Help states solve their housing problems with the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act Time to pass the U.S. OUTDOOR Act to support American jobs and consumers MORE (D-Wash.) said Republicans "won't budge unless their social agenda is jammed through Congress."

"This is not a budget impasse on fiscal issues," Cantwell said.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal Feinstein pushes back on Trump’s N. Korea policy Feinstein on reelection bid: ‘We will see’ MORE (D-Calif.) took that criticism a step further.

"It's an opportunity for the right wing in the House to really sock it to women," said the usually demure Feinstein. "I don't usually use this language, but I really believe this is true."

There's been some talk that Republicans have tweaked their reproductive health rider to make Title X a block grant, allowing governors to decide how to allocate the funding. The plan was soundly rejected by Democratic senators Friday.

"If they want to do that, it should be done in the context of a debate on the floor," Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowMich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead Report: GOP donors can't get in touch with Kid Rock Kid Rock denies press credentials to Detroit paper MORE (D-Mich.) told The Hill.