McConnell: GOP needs to face 'cold, hard reality' on Planned Parenthood

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP scrambles to fend off Kobach in Kansas primary Meadows: Election will be held on November third Don't let Trump distract us from the real threat of his presidency MORE is sharpening his opposition to the small core of conservatives willing to risk a government shutdown to defund Planned Parenthood.

“The cold hard reality for those who don’t support Planned Parenthood is that we need a president who has a similar view and would sign our bill,” McConnell told reporters Wednesday, while repeatedly pledging to find a way to fund the government.


GOP leaders are under intense pressure from several members, led by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP Trump tests GOP loyalty with election tweet and stimulus strategy Republicans dismiss Trump proposal to delay election MORE (R-Texas), to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood at any cost after the provider was accused of selling fetal tissue — claims the group has strongly denied.

With the clock ticking to fund the government, McConnell gave his most blunt assessment yet that defunding Planned Parenthood in the 2016 spending bill “would not achieve that goal.”

The GOP’s inner battle over Planned Parenthood is heating up with just weeks left to avert a government shutdown.

Several other Republicans also made clear Wednesday that they backed McConnell — even if it means voting for a bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood.

"If there was a one in 1,000 chance to shut down what Planned Parenthood is doing by shutting down the government, I would support it. But with this president, it simply isn't possible,” said Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet America's divide widens: Ignore it no longer Trump gives Grenell his Cabinet chair after he steps down MORE (R-Ind.) “We've proven that, unfortunately, with the past effort on the shutdown."

“My number one priority is to prevent a government shutdown,” said Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal Shaheen, Chabot call for action on new round of PPP loans MORE (R-Maine). “Those who are tying funding of Planned Parenthood with the operations of government are making a mistake, in my view.”

“It’s a repeat of the mistake that was made in 2013,” she added.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who wrote the Senate’s bill to defund Planned Parenthood last month, said she would not automatically reject a government spending bill if it includes money for the organization.

“We can’t base it on one item or another, because we’re going to have many, many important items. It’s about priorities and looking ahead,” she said. “I will be looking at the whole package.”

Planned Parenthood receives about $500 million in federal funding annually, but McConnell stressed that only “a small portion of funds” — about $28 million — can be controlled by Congress in its annual spending process. The majority of its funding comes from Medicaid, which is part of the government’s mandatory spending.

The same argument has been made by Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCheney battle raises questions about House GOP's future Lott says lobbying firm cut ties to prevent him from taking clients Lobbying firm cuts ties to Trent Lott amid national anti-racism protests MORE (R-Ohio), who has also resisted calls for a government shutdown.

“We’re not going to engage in exercises in futility. We’ve already voted one time in the Senate to try to defund Planned Parenthood. We know the president wouldn’t sign such a bill,” McConnell said.

In addition to the failed vote on defunding Planned Parenthood last month, Senate GOP leaders have fast-tracked a House bill to ban abortions after 20-weeks. McConnell said he will file cloture on the bill Thursday.

Even some of the country’s best abortion opponent groups don’t support a shutdown, McConnell said, citing comments by the National Right to Life president Carol Tobias.

“It’s a strategy they don’t think makes much success because it doesn’t succeed,” McConnell said.