Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBiden likely to tap Robert Califf to return as FDA head Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE slammed her Republican colleagues who are suggesting that Congress should use a government spending bill to defund Planned Parenthood.
"We all know where the votes are, and it's not going to happen," the New Hampshire Republican said from the Senate floor. "I'm tired of the people on my side of the aisle who have been pushing this strategy, even though they know they don't have the votes to pass it in the United States Senate, and they certainly don't have the votes to override a presidential veto."
Ayotte didn't specifically mention Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: 'We don't need your lectures, thanks mate' MORE (R-Texas), who is running for president, during her speech from the Senate floor. Her comments, however, come after she sent a letter last week to the Texas Republican last week asking him to explain his "strategy for success" if the government shuts down because of the fight over Planned Parenthood.
She noted that as of Tuesday she hasn't "received an answer to that question."
Her comments also come after Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFixing Congress requires fixing how it legislates McConnell: GOP should focus on future, not 'rehash' 2020 Hoyer: Democrats 'committed' to Oct. 31 timeline for Biden's agenda MORE (R-Ky.) teed up a procedural vote on a short-term spending bill that would redirect federal funding for Planned Parenthood to other community health centers.
Republicans are expected to fail to get the 60 votes needed to overcome Thursday's procedural hurdle, which could pave the way for the Senate to take up a "clean" spending bill.
Cruz has pledged to oppose a "clean" bill, adding that he believes Congress should pass a short-term bill that defunds Planned Parenthood and forces the Obama administration to hand over "side deals" between Iran and the Iran Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"The position of Republican leadership boils down to this: They will support 100 percent of the priorities of Democrats," he told reporters ahead of a Republican policy lunch, which he skipped.
He didn't answer a question on whether he would mount a talking filibuster, which could slow down the Senate's consideration of the spending bill.
Ayotte, however, suggested that Thursday's procedural vote was a waste of the Senate's time, with only a handful of days remaining to pass the government funding bill.
"We all know what it's going to take to keep the government open, and I think we should have that vote now instead of continuing to have to have the political show votes that show people where we know the votes already are on this issue," she added. "And that means a clean funding bill now so that we aren't wasting time."
Ayotte was one of 53 senators who voted to take up legislation earlier this year that would have defunded Planned Parenthood. But her remarks on Tuesday underscore the division among Republicans about linking the effort to strip the organization of federal funding to a short-term spending bill.
President Obama has threatened to veto any spending bill that doesn't also fund the organization.