In a 241-187 vote, nearly all Republicans and two Democrats approved legislation that would block Planned Parenthood’s federal funding for one year, giving time for Congress to fully investigate claims of wrongdoing by the provider.
The House vote represents the first time that congressional Republicans have approved legislation to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of this summer’s undercover video controversy. The vote is largely symbolic, as Democrats are expected to block the bill in the Senate.
The vote was virtually meaningless because it won’t pass in the Senate and even if it did President Barack Obama would veto the bill.
Leadership sought an outlet for GOP lawmakers’ outrage after this summer’s release of videos secretly recorded by abortion foes, who contend they show that Planned Parenthood illegally profits from selling tissue from aborted fetuses to medical researchers.
Unclear is whether the vote Friday to defund Planned Parenthood and other steps will be enough to placate conservatives, emboldened by widespread criticism of the organization at Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate.
Temporary funding legislation is needed to give the chronically dysfunctional Congress more time to sort through huge differences over a full-year spending bill that could ease a budget freeze facing the Pentagon and domestic agencies. Top congressional Democrats exiting a meeting with President Barack Obama on Thursday said any temporary funding measure should have a short time-span and that Democrats would demand increases for domestic agencies.
What is clear is that the once-routine job of advancing a short-term spending bill to keep the government open past an Oct. 1 deadline remains a major headache for House GOP leaders, chiefly Speaker John Boehner. Some hard-right lawmakers and tea partyers are threatening to try to topple the Ohio Republican, a fierce foe of abortion who has held the speakership since January 2011.
Boehner may seek the help of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who met for 20 minutes after she returned from meeting with Obama. Aides declined to characterize the session. They have worked together in the past when Boehner has had trouble with the hardliners in his party will not budge.