Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cast doubt on the ability of abortion opponents in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood during upcoming federal budget battles on Capitol Hill.
McConnell, R-Ky., in a Kentucky television interview Monday, said stripping Planned Parenthood of federal dollars will be a matter for the next president in 2017.
“The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new president, hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood,” the majority leader said on WYMT’s “Issues and Answers.”
McConnell’s remarks will likely rile conservatives who’ve taken aim at Planned Parenthood in the wake of controversial hidden videos that allegedly show the organization discussing the sale of fetal parts.
Lawmakers such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a Republican presidential candidate, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have indicated a willingness to use the upcoming budget debates to press for defunding Planned Parenthood.
“If the president and the Democrats think it’s more important for Planned Parenthood to get your tax dollars than to fund the rest of the government, then they will be to blame for any shutdown that occurs,” Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, told McClatchy Tuesday.
The current fiscal year ends Sept. 30 and lawmakers will have to pass some measure to keep the federal government running and avoid a shutdown.
McConnell has vowed that there won’t be a shutdown. He said the Senate will vote again on Planned Parenthood following an unsuccessful attempt to defund it before the Congress’s summer recess.
“We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we’d like,” he said in the “Issues and Answers” interview. “Again, the president has the pen to sign it. If he doesn’t sign it, it doesn’t happen. But, yeah, we voted on that already in the Senate, we’ll vote on it again. But I would remind all of your viewers the way you make a law in this country, the Congress has to pass it and the president has to sign it.”
Planned Parenthood officials took note of McConnell’s remarks Tuesday. Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said “The real question is can McConnell convince the rest of Congress to not hold the federal government hostage as a few politicians try to score cheap political points by cutting health care for millions.”