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Rand Paul Planned Parenthood Bill May Get a Vote

Paul's plan to defund Planned Parenthood might be the one that gets a Senate vote. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans are looking to vote on defunding Planned Parenthood before leaving the Capitol for August recess.  

It's an effort that is unlikely to be much more than a procedural or show-vote given that they only control 54 seats in the chamber and the Democratic minority is certain to balk at any vote without a 60-vote threshold.  

Two sources familiar with the situation told CQ Roll Call the Senate is likely to hold a procedural vote on a stand-alone bill introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that would block federal funding for the Planned Parenthood organization. The chamber is currently working to burn time needed to overcome procedural hurdles on highway legislation.  

The most likely vote would be on limiting debate on a motion to proceed.  

"Since the inhumane acts of Planned Parenthood have surfaced, I have vowed to defeat and defund this taxpayer-funded organization. I am more appalled than ever by Planned Parenthood's complete disregard for the sanctity of human life," Paul said in a statement announcing the Senate was using what has become a rather routine process to get the bill on the Senate's legislative calendar without going through committee.  

Indiana Republican Sen. Dan Coats became the latest to call on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his leadership team to make such a scheduling move in a statement Monday afternoon. Coats pointed to the recent videos about the harvesting of body parts that Planned Parenthood has said are not credible.  

"We need to let Planned Parenthood know that the American people do not support these inhumane practices," Coats said in a statement. "Congress should vote to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood before we leave for August recess. I urge Senate leadership to give every Senator the opportunity to affirm that life is a sacred and precious gift that must be protected."  

"I think the leader understands that this is an issue that we want to have. We have a lot of people who are very interested in a vote on that. We'll see how that goes, but what they do is outrageous and I think it's offensive, not just to Republicans, but to Democrats, independents," Republican Conference Chairman John Thune said. "I think there are a lot of people around the country who want to see something done. We’ll respond in some way, but I’m not sure exactly what that might look like at the moment. But I think you can be on some kind of response."  

The South Dakota Republican signaled the vote, or at least a commitment for the vote, could come ahead of the August break.  

On Sunday, senators turned back an effort by Sen. Mike Lee to offer a Planned Parenthood-funding rider as an amendment to the pending vehicle for a six-year highway bill. The Republican from Utah was rebuffed when a ruling from the presiding officer that his amendment was not in order was sustained by the chamber on a voice vote.  

Lee, as GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, had seen earlier in the day, could not achieve the sufficient second to order a roll call vote on his procedural motion. That typically perfunctory step required the backing of at least 11 fellow senators.  

Democratic National Committee Director of Women's Media Kaylie Hanson said Paul's plan was part of a pattern.  

"When Republicans take aim at women’s health clinics, they're making it harder for women and families to get access to the affordable health care they need, and lead the healthy lives they deserve," Hanson said.  

One Democratic aide dismissed the idea of a procedural vote on the Paul legislation as a bid by Republican leadership to placate their base before having to move forward in September with a continuing resolution that does not include a Planned Parenthood rider.  

"I'm trying to keep the government open," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. "That’s what we should be talking about. Are we really going to shut down the government over that? I hope not."  

In 2011, House Republicans sought to make a stand over Planned Parenthood funding during that year's budgetary battles, but ultimately moved ahead without such a provision.  

Matthew Fleming contributed to this report.

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