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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellUS could default within weeks absent action on debt limit: analysis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown Senate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal 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.

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GOP leaders are under intense pressure from several members, led by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown 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 CoatsAn independent commission should review our National Defense Strategy Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race 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 CollinsPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Real relief from high gas prices The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron 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 BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power 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.