Cruz pledges to 'lead the fight' to defund Planned Parenthood

Cruz pledges to 'lead the fight' to defund Planned Parenthood
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Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMichael Bennet declared cancer-free, paving way for possible 2020 run Booker, Harris have missed most Senate votes O'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign MORE (R-Texas) is moving ahead with his pledge to defund Planned Parenthood at any cost this fall, a move that puts him directly at odds with Senate leadership.

In an op-ed published Thursday in USA Today, Cruz declared that he will “lead the fight” to defund Planned Parenthood, after a series of undercover videos raised questions about its fetal tissue donation program.

Cruz warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFormer Bush assistant: Mueller report makes Obama look 'just plain bad' 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Dem says marijuana banking bill will get House vote this spring MORE not to “schedule or facilitate” any legislation that doles out federal dollars to Planned Parenthood — referring to a bill that must pass Congress this fall to fund the government.

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“Instead, the Department of Justice needs to investigate and prosecute Planned Parenthood for any potential criminal actions of commercial trafficking of fetal organs,” said Cruz, who is a GOP presidential candidate.

Cruz also condemned what he called a “show vote” in the Senate earlier this month, when McConnell scheduled a vote to defund Planned Parenthood that stood little chance of passage.

Since then, Cruz has ramped up his rhetoric on Planned Parenthood, making it part of his campaign pitch.

McConnell, who has condemned Planned Parenthood, has said he will not let members of his party attempt to shut down the government, even if it means continuing funding for the women’s health provider. The consequences of such a tactic, he said, could be as damaging as the party's previous government shutdown in 2013 — also led by Cruz.

“We’ve been down this path before,” McConnell said in early August, before senators departed for recess. “This is a tactic that’s been tried going back to the ’90s, frequently by Republican majorities that always have the same ending: that the focus is on the fact that the government is shut down, not on what the underlying issue that is being protested is.”

Planned Parenthood was dragged into the national spotlight this summer after an anti-abortion group released seven secretly recorded videos targeting the organization. The videos have since acquired millions of views, and nearly 60 percent of voters said they were paying attention to the controversy, according to this week’s Kaiser Family Foundation poll.