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Rand Paul Bringing Abortion Politics to Highway Bill Debate

Paul says he'll use procedural tools to get a vote to defund Planned Parenthood. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul appears to be plotting to bring the debate over abortion to the highway bill.  

The Kentucky Republican's presidential campaign said Friday he would be seeking an amendment vote on blocking federal funding for Planned Parenthood next week.  

"The recent revelation that this taxpayer-funded organization is selling body parts of the unborn further proves that this agency deserves our scorn not our tax dollars. I plan to do whatever I can to stop them and will introduce an amendment to pending Senate legislation to immediately strip every dollar of Planned Parenthood funding," Paul said in a campaign statement.  

The pending business before the Senate next week is a bipartisan surface transportation bill, a measure expected to be open for amendment. And unlike the House, the Senate has no general germaneness requirement, so Paul should have the opportunity to at least make a stand to get his vote.  

"The continued disregard and disrespect for human life at Planned Parenthood, a partially taxpayer-funded organization, is shocking and appalling," Paul said through his Senate office. "Recent video revelations, involving potentially criminal activity, make it more obvious than ever that this organization has absolutely zero respect for the sanctity of human life and is an affront to the most basic human dignity enshrined in our founding documents. Not one more taxpayer dollar should go to Planned Parenthood and I intend to make that goal a reality."  

Paul's Senate office said the Kentuckian was prepared to use any available procedural tools to ensure his measure gets a vote on the floor.  

While Paul's views are often described as libertarian, he has consistently opposed abortion rights. The new push comes in response to a video from the anti-abortion advocacy group Center for Medical Progress about what Planned Parenthood has done with organs and tissue from aborted fetuses — something that's received a flurry of attention on Capitol Hill.  

Another Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, is the lead sponsor of the Senate's legislation to bar abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pledged in June that the measure would get a vote before the Senate, but no action has been scheduled.