WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fast-tracked a bill Tuesday that would block federal funding for abortion-provider Planned Parenthood for one year, averting a government shutdown until Dec. 11.
McConnell, R-Ky., said the bill would take $235 million from Planned Parenthood as a "one-year moratorium" that would "allow us to press the pause button" while Congressional investigations into the alleged illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue continues. Planned Parenthood has denied the claims. McConnell's bill will also boost defense spending by $13 billion.
The federal government is set to run out of funding at the end of the month, leading to a government shutdown on Oct. 1. McConnell announced that in lieu of a short-term measure to keep the government operating, he will push for the bill that defunds the nation's largest abortion provider.
"I know Democrats have relied on Planned Parenthood as a political ally, but they must be moved by the horrifying images we've seen," McConnell said. "Can they not resolve to protect women's health instead of powerful political friends?"
The legislation will likely fail due to Democratic opposition, allowing McConnell to say he tried a plan outlined by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, but it didn't work. McConnell could then forward "clean" funding bill and a separate Planned Parenthood measure.
"It would keep the government funded through the fall while adhering to the bipartisan spending levels already agreed to by both parties," McConnell said. "And, for one year, it would defund Planned Parenthood and protect women's health by funding community health clinics with that $235 million instead. This would allow us to press the 'pause' button as we investigate the serious scandal surrounding Planned Parenthood."
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the vote will create a "real difficult time squeeze."
"We're going to have another vote, abortion related, on Planned Parenthood," Reid said from the Senate floor. "And then we're going to have to try to figure out a way to fund the government. This responsibility is on the Republicans."