McConnell: Planned Parenthood shutdown fight ‘an exercise in futility’

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is rejecting calls from conservatives to block Planned Parenthood funding in a spending measure, warning it would be “an exercise in futility.”

In an interview with Politico, McConnell said he would support a “clean” measure to fund the government and avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

{mosads}He said he supported calls to defund Planned Parenthood, but argued that Republicans would not be able to win the battle with a Democrat in the White House.

“It’s an exercise in futility,” McConnell said. “I’m anxious to defund Planned Parenthood,” but “the honest answer of that is that’s not going to happen until you have a president who has a similar view.”

McConnell offered similar comments in an interview for a Kentucky TV station last month.

“It’s better to be honest with the American people and say, ‘That won’t get it done,’ ” McConnell told Politico.

He warned that Senate Democrats would block any attempt to defund Planned Parenthood as part of a government spending bill.

“Senate Democrats have refused to let us pass any of the 12 appropriations bills,” McConnell said. “What we’re going to do is fund the government into the end of the year, and it will obviously have to be something that could get a presidential signature. So there’s no way you can avoid talking to each other about how to get there.”

McConnell said the upper chamber would vote on a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks.

“What we are going to do is move to the pain-capable [abortion] bill sometime this month and see how people feel about that,” he said.

In the House, Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) has not ruled out attaching language blocking federal funding for Planned Parenthood to a government-funding bill.

The House Freedom Caucus, with more than 40 members, has pledged to oppose any legislation that continues to fund Planned Parenthood, which has been targeted by conservatives after a series of undercover videos were released showing officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue. The abortion rights group argues it has done nothing illegal and does not set any tissue for a profit.

When Congress returns to Capitol Hill next week, lawmakers will only have eight legislative days left before the Oct. 1 deadline to fund the government and avoid a government shutdown. 

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