Planned Parenthood Vote Collides with First GOP Debate

by Eliana Johnson

The Senate will vote at 5:30 P.M. EST Monday evening to file cloture on a bill that would block all taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. 

At that time, the four Republican senators who are running for president were expected to be in New Hampshire for the Voters First Presidential Forum hosted by the New Hampshire Union Leader, set to take place from 7 P.M. to 9 P.M. on Monday, which put the senators who are also presidential candidates in a bind. The campaigns pressed Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to move the vote, but he declined. As a result, I’m told that Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul will participate in the forum remotely from C-SPAN’s Washington, D.C. studio. A spokeswoman for Lindsey Graham says the senator will be in New Hampshire for the event. 

According to McConnell spokesman Don Stewart, the vote was scheduled when it was because McConnell filed cloture on the motion to proceed as soon as the bill was available for consideration, and the vote was scheduled as soon as it was available. “Under the regular order/Rule 22, that vote happens on Monday,” Steward says. ”Votes on Monday are at 5:30 every week.” He says moving the vote would require unanimous consent from Democrats, who “aren’t cooperating.” Regardless, the fracas sends a message to the candidates, some of whom have played a key role in sustaining the conversation about Planned Parenthood on a national level, that the Senate will not bend to accommodate their campaign schedules.  
 

The Union Leader forum, which will be held at St. Anselm college in Manchester, was planned after the Fox News Channel announced the criteria for its August 6 debate. It won’t be a debate, but a series of short, seven-minute addresses from each candidate. Three candidates won’t participate: Donald Trump said he wouldn’t attend unless the Union Leader endorsed him; Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee reportedly declined to respond to the paper’s invitation; and former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore hadn’t filed his paperwork with the FEC in time.     

With regard to the Planned Parenthood vote, reaching the 60-vote threshold required to move the bill to the floor for a vote will be tough: Republican senator Susan Collins has already announced her intention to vote against the bill, and just two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, are as yet undecided.  

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