Week ahead: GOP leaders try to avoid shutdown over Planned Parenthood

The looming deadline to avert a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding will dominate the week.

Republican leaders are looking for a way to avert a shutdown on Oct. 1, despite the demand from 31 House conservatives that a funding bill not include any funds for Planned Parenthood. That is more than enough to force Republicans to get Democratic votes for a spending bill, a risky move for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Both the House and Senate are first voting on other measures to provide an outlet for anti-abortion lawmakers heading toward the funding deadline.

{mosads}The House on Friday approved a standalone measure to defund Planned Parenthood for one year. And on Tuesday, the Senate will vote on a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

After that vote, the Senate could vote later in the week on a government funding bill that defunds Planned Parenthood as a way to show conservatives that the measure cannot get past a Democratic filibuster.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, alluded to this possibility on Thursday, saying “I think we’ll have votes associated with the [continuing resolution] on defunding.”

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made it clear that ultimately the chamber will vote on a spending bill that does not defund Planned Parenthood, calling that effort an “exercise in futility.”

The way forward in the House is less clear. Pope Francis’s visit to Washington and address to Congress will dominate much of the week.

However, Boehner has made it clear that he does not want a government shutdown and has tried to steer his members away from that route, saying a shutdown could end up hurting the anti-abortion cause.

Still, a group of conservatives is not swayed, and Boehner will likely need Democratic votes. He met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for 20 minutes on Thursday to discuss the spending bill.

Pelosi said no more meetings are currently scheduled, but Boehner and Pelosi could keep up talks next week.

Hearings could also resume next week: The House Oversight Committee has promised to hold a hearing on the controversial videos over Planned Parenthood’s handling of fetal tissue by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, a Senate judiciary panel will turn attention to health insurance mergers on Tuesday.

The Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights will hear from the heads of Anthem and Aetna — two companies currently looking to consolidate.

Sparks will likely fly, as a representative for the American Hospital Association —which strongly opposes the deal — is also slated to testify.

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Tags Boehner John Boehner John Cornyn Mitch McConnell

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