Cruz vows vote on defunding Planned Parenthood

Cruz vows vote on defunding Planned Parenthood
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week MORE (R-Texas) wants to force the Senate to vote on defunding Planned Parenthood this week, as a second undercover video unleashes a new storm of scrutiny of the organization.

Cruz’s office said Tuesday that he plans to file an amendment on the highway bill that would eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, in addition to an amendment that would fully repeal ObamaCare.

Cruz is the second senator — and the second GOP presidential candidate — who is eying the highway bill as an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulDem wins Kentucky state House seat in district Trump won by 49 points GOP's tax reform bait-and-switch will widen inequality Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived MORE (R-Ky.) said last week that he will “use all legislative vehicles at his disposal” to force a vote this week but has not released details of his plan.

Planned Parenthood landed in a firestorm of controversy last week after anti-abortion activists released a secretly recorded video in which a high-ranking medical officer describes the preservation of fetal tissue in shockingly candid detail. In a second video, released Tuesday, another Planned Parenthood executive discusses the costs of saving and using the fetal tissue.

In the wake of the second video's release, Paul told Fox News's "America's Newsroom" that he would "do everything I can to stop" the sale of fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood — an accusation that has been strongly denied by the organization.

The Kentucky Republican also acknowledged the complicated politics of abortion even within his own party.

"I think Republicans have run away from the abortion issue. This is baby parts we’re talking about," he said in an interview with Fox News.

Cruz is also planning to force a vote to repeal the “Washington exemption from ObamaCare” — a federal rule the GOP says allows congressional staff to join the small business exchange. Cruz will offer legislation championed by Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterTrump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge Where is due process in all the sexual harassment allegations? Not the Senate's job to second-guess Alabama voters MORE (R-La.) as an amendment to the highway bill.

“There will be a floor amendment this week, again, to pursue that end, and I urge my colleagues to do the right thing, to support that important floor amendment,” Vitter said during a floor speech Tuesday morning.

The raft of amendments will complicate the must-pass highway bill, which has already been targeted by conservatives as a way to revive their fight against the Export-Import Bank.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' | White House says Trump has confidence in VA chief | Russia concedes 'dozens' of civilians injured in Syria clash Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived House passes deal to end shutdown MORE (R-Okla.) said earlier Tuesday that the highway bill will be open to amendments. The full legislation has not yet been introduced.