Senate plots to avoid fall shutdown brawl
Senate rejects Paul's effort to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding
The Senate rejected an effort by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to attach a provision blocking federal funding for Planned Parenthood to a massive government spending bill.
Senators voted 45-48 on Paul's amendment, with 60 votes needed to add the provision to the spending bill. GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted with Democrats to oppose the amendment.
The vote came after Paul was initially blocked from bringing up his amendment. Leadership has agreed to block "poison pill" provisions, which would threaten the bipartisan support for the Defense-Education-Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations bill.
Paul's amendment would prevent federal funding from going to the organization and others that provide abortions.
"I will never apologize for standing up for life. If it took exposing the preference of so many in my own party to continue reckless spending over protecting the innocent, it was a fight worth having," Paul said in a statement after the vote.
Paul had lashed out at Republican leadership from the Senate floor earlier Thursday accusing them of blocking him from getting a vote.
"The question is, what is more important to these Republicans? Saving lives or spending money?" he asked.
Republicans argued that it was Democrats initially blocking Paul from getting a vote because GOP leadership wouldn't give Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) a vote on a separate amendment.
Despite Republicans having control of the White House and both houses of Congress, they've been unable to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
House Republicans included a provision stripping federal funding for the organization in the Health and Human Services bill that cleared the Appropriations Committee.
But getting a similar provision in a Senate bill was always an uphill battle because of the Democratic support needed to approve appropriations bills.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) noted ahead of the Senate's vote the abortion was a "divisive issue" and that he would oppose Paul's amendment.
"Many people have different strongly held ... beliefs on this particular issue," he said.
Updated at 8:09 p.m.