“If the CR defunds Planned Parenthood … I would vote against that, because … I don’t think the two issues should be linked. I think that we need a clean CR in order to make sure the government does not shut down, and that is my top priority,” Collins said.
Collins did say that she believes the vote will show conservatives definitively that linking the attack on Planned Parenthood with a government spending bill will not work.
“I don’t want to speak for the leader, but I believe he is trying to show the House very clearly that linking the issue of funding for Planned Parenthood with funding for all of government is a nonstarter here in the Senate and that the Senate does not want to see government shutdown,” Collins said.
Collins said she is hopeful for a clean, but very short-term continuing resolution that would expire as early as November, to give herself and fellow members of the Appropriations Committee time to draft new funding bills and pass them through both chambers before the end of the year.
McConnell has said repeatedly that a continuing resolution that defunds Planned Parenthood would be incredibly difficult to pass through the upper chamber and would certainly not earn the president’s signature, warning members of his party from trapping themselves in a box canyon over federal funding yet again.
But the vote will allow Republicans to go on the record once again as opposing funding for Planned Parenthood, which has been at the center of controversial video tapes alleging that it has sold fetal tissue for profit. Republicans will vote on the continuing resolution alongside a Tuesday procedural move to pass a federal 20-week abortion ban, just as the pope visits the Capitol on Thursday.
“We should stand for our principles, and our principles should not be surrendering to the Democrats,” Sen. Ted Cruz told reporters Tuesday. Cruz has rallied conservatives in both chambers and religious leaders over the past few months in opposition to Planned Parenthood, warning McConnell and other congressional leaders that he will oppose any government-funding measure that provides money to the health organization.
When cloture on the Planned Parenthood measure fails, as soon as Thursday, McConnell is expected to bring up a clean funding bill that would keep the government’s doors open through later this year, with support from Democrats and a likely majority of Senate Republicans, who are fearful of earning blame for another government shutdown in just a two-year span.
Whether that can pass the House—where conservatives are similarly pressing to defund Planned Parenthood before funding the government—ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline remains an open question.
House Republicans have a conference meeting scheduled for Friday where they will again discuss how to tackle federal funding for Planned Parenthood and a short-term spending measure.