This week: Can Congress avoid a shutdown?

September 28, 2015, 06:00 am
This week: Can Congress avoid a shutdown?

By Cristina Marcos and Jordain Carney

Congress will race this week to pass a government spending bill by Wednesday night to avert a shutdown.

The Senate will take a procedural vote on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that includes funding for Planned Parenthood on Monday at 4:30 p.m., paving the way for the bill to be sent to the House by Tuesday.

The move comes after nearly every Democrat — and eight Republicans — blocked a short-term proposal that would have funded the government but defunded Planned Parenthood. Voting to defund the organization was widely expected to fail, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) telling reporters ahead of last week’s vote: “I think we all know we’re gonna do a clean CR.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats, saying that by backing Planned Parenthood they are “making a losing bet they will come to regret over the long-term.” But he urged Republicans to support the “clean” spending bill, even though it funds the organization, adding that “the government will shut down next week if Congress doesn’t act.”

House Republicans will take up the stopgap measure free of policy riders this week before the deadline. It’s expected to pass with Democratic support and many GOP defections.

Rather than using the government funding bill as leverage, House GOP leaders plan to use a fast-track process known as reconciliation to try to defund Planned Parenthood.

Using reconciliation would prevent Senate Democrats from filibustering it, all but ensuring that a funding bill blocking money for Planned Parenthood would reach the White House. However, it would likely face a veto threat from President Obama.

The House will also vote Tuesday on legislation authored by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) that would allow states to withhold Medicaid funding from providers that conduct abortions.

Author: Michael J. Mikulka

President, AFGE Local 704, representing over 900 bargaining unit employees working at the U.S. EPA Region 5 Offices in Chicago, Grosse Ile, MI and Westlake, OH.

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