House, Senate bills would block Planned Parenthood funding

Planned Parenthood, Defund, Abortion, Fetal Tissue, Fetal Organs

A pair of Republicans in the House and Senate are jointly pushing bills that would block federal funding from Planned Parenthood for one year, pending a full federal investigation of the group.

Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) and Rep. Diane BlackDiane BlackIvanka sells Trump childcare to Capitol Hill Trump calls congresswoman to stage at child care policy speech Overnight Healthcare: Zika funding stalemate drags on | Tighter rules for ObamaCare sign-ups | New EpiPen probe MORE (Tenn.) both introduced bills Wednesday to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood — legislation that Black said has received a “favorable response” from GOP leaders.

Black, a leader of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, is calling for a vote “as soon as possible” after an anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress released two videos that appear to show Planned Parenthood officials detailing ways to preserve fetal tissue and haggling over costs for certain organs.

Planned Parenthood has repeatedly said it does not profit from any fetal tissue donation and that its officials were only discussing the reimbursement for the procedure. Still, the videos have spurred a national uproar that has prompted House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerTrump backers lack Ryan alternative Ryan has little margin for error in Speaker vote Top Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns MORE (R-Ohio) to order congressional investigations into the group.

“I am aware our nation is divided on the issue of abortion, but it is common-sense that we shouldn’t force taxpayers to assist the harvesting of human organs,” Lankford said in a release.

The videos have fueled attacks from Republicans who have long targeted Planned Parenthood because of its role in abortions. The group receives $500 million dollars from the federal government per year, according to a recent audit, though none can be used for abortions.

Black, who is the first House member to introduce a bill to defund the group, is working with the House Pro-Life Caucus to drum up support so it can “move forward quickly for a vote,” spokesman Jonathan Frank said.

“Black spoke with House Republican leadership about the importance of acting on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood shortly after the release of the first undercover video and was encouraged by their favorable response,” Frank added.

Black's legislation in the House coincides with pledges by Sens. Ted CruzTed CruzDemocrats pounce on Cruz's Supreme Court comments Brent Budowsky: An epic battle for the future of Congress Cruz: Precedent exists for keeping Supreme Court short-staffed MORE (R-Texas) and Rand PaulRand PaulWhat the 'Bernie Sanders wing of the GOP' can teach Congress GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election How low is the bar for presidential candidates, anyway? MORE (R-Ky.) — both presidential candidates — to force votes on defunding Planned Parenthood by adding amendments to the must-pass highway funding bill this week. 

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynPotential Cruz challenger: 'Don't close off your options' Report: Investor visa program mainly funds wealthy areas GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (R-Texas) told reporters Tuesday that he is expecting the Senate to consider amendments on the bill that would defund Planned Parenthood.

Also in the Senate, Lankford has already signed onto his colleagues’ letters to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell urging a full probe into the videos.

He also signed onto a letter that asked Burwell to keep all records related to funding of Planned Parenthood for future investigations.

—Updated at 5:05 p.m.