Senate fast tracks bill to defund Planned Parenthood

The Senate is fast-tracking a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of two controversial videos that sparked a political firestorm. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate nearing deal on defense bill after setback On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Schumer eyeing Build Back Better vote as soon as week of Dec. 13 MORE (R-Ky.) finished the process, known as "Rule 14," on Sunday, allowing the legislation to skip over the committee process and be placed directly on the Senate calendar for a floor vote.
 
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The move comes as Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCongress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default Cotton swipes at Fauci: 'These bureaucrats think that they are the science' Paul, Cruz fire back after Fauci says criticism of him is 'dangerous' MORE (R-Ky.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate nearing deal on defense bill after setback Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE (R-Texas), who are running for president, as well as Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeCongress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default No deal in sight as Congress nears debt limit deadline Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall MORE (R-Utah), hope to use the Senate's long-term highway bill as a vehicle to defund the organization. 
 
Republicans have renewed their opposition to Planned Parenthood after two videos were released earlier this month showing officials discussing the preservation of fetal tissue. 
 
But McConnell added a hurdle to that effort on Friday, when he used a tactic known as "filling the tree" to block additional amendments from being offered to the highway bill. 
 
Cruz, pointing to McConnell's maneuver, suggested that the Republican leader was trying to avoid a vote on cutting off federal funds to Planned Parenthood. 
 
"There are a host of amendments that the American people are focused on, things like defunding Planned Parenthood after the gruesome video,” Cruz said at the time. “The majority leader doesn't want to vote on that. That's actually something the American people are focused on."
 
The legislation being fast-tracked was introduced Friday by Paul, who said on Sunday that he considering various procedural options to try to force a vote on the legislation. 
 
He said during an interview with "Fox News Sunday" that one strategy is using a "discharge petition" that would require the support of at least 16 other senators.