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Pre-emptive Shutdown Strikes: Democrats Already Target GOP

McConnell said he's doesn't want a shutdown, but outside groups have a plan to pin blame on him anyway. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A progressive outside group is going on the offensive ahead of the government spending standoff that will take place in the coming weeks, and another political action committee has a shutdown countdown clock.  

The Bridge Project affiliate of American Bridge 21st Century has prepared a report that's a ready-made primer for Democratic campaign ads that are sure to come if senators again find themselves on the verge of a government shutdown approaching Sept. 30.  

"Instead of focusing on the critical task of funding the federal government, conservatives have threatened to hijack the budget process to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides reproductive health care and education to more than five million people each year," the report says.  

"Egged on by radical, anti-choice groups, many Republican lawmakers have signaled they are willing to cost the economy billions of dollars and millions of jobs just to make it harder for women to receive health care. Congress has returned from recess to several looming and critical deadlines, but the GOP majority has yet to present a plan, or to even unify around a promise to not force the government to shut down for the second time in two years."  

The 21-page report , provided first to CQ Roll Call, provides clipped quotes of Republican leadership swearing off the shutdown risk, with targeted releases planned for several 2016 Senate battleground states with at least one Republican senator.  

And while Bridge Project will put most of their focus on Senate Republicans on the ballot in 2016, there's one rather notable addition to the list. Both Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a GOP presidential candidate who is also up for re-election this cycle, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  

That's no surprise, the effort includes a reminder of McConnell's declaration in Louisville the day after last year's election when it became clear he would become majority leader that, "Let me make it clear: There will be no government shutdowns and no default on the national debt," under the new Republican majority.  

In addition to Kentucky, Bridge Project is tailoring its message for Arizona, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (even if the home-state Republican senator has sworn off the idea of leveraging a continuing resolution to stop funding for Planned Parenthood).  

And the Senate Majority PAC, the political action committee associated with Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is gearing up as well, sending an email blast to supporters Tuesday morning featuring a ticking clock animation with a dire warning about there being just 16 days until a shutdown.  

"Right-wing extremists, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, are 16 DAYS away from forcing a total government shutdown unless Planned Parenthood is defunded," the email says.  

Cruz, a Texas senator who is running for president with a decidely conservative appeal, argues conservatives should stand up and fight on the Planned Parenthood matter, and he is not likely to mind being the subject of attack from the left over funding for an organization that provides abortion services.  

Republican leadership has sought to de-link the Planned Parenthood debate from the government funding battle, with both chambers gearing up for anti-abortion legislation to be debated ahead of a continuing resolution.  

Related: Senate GOP Plans Abortion Debate After More Iran Deal Votes Ahead of Planned Parenthood Battle, House to Vote on Abortion Bills See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.