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Senate Advances Spending Measure With Planned Parenthood Funding; Planned Parenthood Pres. Testifies

Senate Advances Spending Measure With Planned Parenthood Funding; Planned Parenthood Pres. Testifies

September 29, 2015 — The Senate on Monday voted 77-19 to advance a temporary spending measure that would not defund Planned Parenthood, the New York Times reports.

The measure still needs final approval in both the Senate and House (Herszenhorn, New York Times, 9/28).

Background

Following the release of a series of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood, some conservatives have called for Congress to defund the organization. Further, some have said they will not support any government spending measure that includes funding for the organization. The government will shut down after Sept. 30 if lawmakers do not pass a spending measure.

Both House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have indicated they oppose shutting down the government. Meanwhile, Boehner last week announced he will resign from his position (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/28).

Details on Temporary Funding Measure

The temporary measure would fund the government through Dec. 11, at which time Congress would have to pass another budget bill, the Times reports.

According to the Times, some aides think that Boehner's upcoming resignation will allow him to advance spending legislation that includes Planned Parenthood funding despite opposition from some conservative lawmakers. However, it is unclear how conservatives in the House will react to the spending measure (New York Times, 9/28).

House Panels Move on Budget Reconciliation

In related news, the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees this week will consider legislation, separate from the must-pass spending measure, that aims to defund Planned Parenthood through the budget reconciliation process, USA Today reports.

The process allows certain legislation to advance in the Senate with a simple majority vote. Several House committees will vote on the legislation on Tuesday and Wednesday (Kelly, USA Today, 9/28).

House Panel Hears Planned Parenthood Testimony

In other related news, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, testified on Tuesday at a House Oversight Committee hearing on the videos, The Hill reports (Ferris, The Hill, 9/28).

Richards said in prepared remarks, "It is clear that" the antiabortion-rights group that recorded the videos "acted fraudulently and unethically -- and perhaps illegally. Yet it is Planned Parenthood ... that is currently subject to four separate congressional investigations." Further, Richards said she is "proud" of Planned Parenthood for providing tissue for research, which she noted is a small component of the organization's work (Fram, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/29).

Meanwhile, David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, the group that worked on the videos, was not called to testify. Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), as well as other members of Congress, have urged the Department of Justice to investigate whether Daleiden and CMP recorded the videos illegally (The Hill, 9/28).

Poll: Majority Opposes Defunding Planned Parenthood

In other related news, large majorities of U.S. residents oppose defunding Planned Parenthood, according to recent polling, the Chicago Tribune/Sacramento Bee reports.

One poll, by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, found that 61% of U.S. residents opposed defunding Planned Parenthood and 41% have a favorable opinion of the organization. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that Planned Parenthood's reputation has improved since the videos were released this summer, though the shift was within the survey's margin of error.

Meanwhile, a separate poll by the Pew Research Center found 60% of U.S. residents said that a federal budget deal must include funding for the organization. In addition, the Pew poll found that 51% of U.S. residents believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases (Lauter, Chicago Tribune/Sacramento Bee, 9/28).