Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the growing talk that the fight over Planned Parenthood might result in a government shutdown come Oct. 1 — nor, he said, would he allow a default on the debt.
McConnell, R-Ky., who has repeatedly vowed to oppose shutdowns on his watch , will need to corral a good number of his conference as well as the Democrats to get that done, but he didn't seem that worried about it Thursday at a press conference marking the first half of the year with Republicans newly in charge of the Senate. Asked by CQ Roll Call if he had the votes today to pass a government funding bill without Planned Parenthood defunding language, McConnell laughed and said, "You all just keep trying, don't you?"
"Yeah, we'll fund the government," he said. "I can't tell you what will finally end up in or out of a government funding bill, but I can tell you without fear of contradiction there will be no government shutdown."
McConnell: No Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood
Given that the president has vowed to veto a defunding bill — and McConnell doesn't have the 60 votes to get past a Democratic filibuster on defunding — that leads to the reality that McConnell won't press the issue.
“We’ve been down this path before,” McConnell said of shutdown politics. He said that in the past, the public has focused less on the party's policy stance and more on the closure of federal agencies.
“We’ll look for other opportunities to make our voices heard on Planned Parenthood,” he said, focusing on Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley’s investigation of the undercover videos.
McConnell also said he expected a vote by the year's end on legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks — an issue championed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
As for the pending need to raise the federal debt limit to avoid a default and a partial government shutdown, McConnell said there wouldn't be a default.
"Look, I think this will create a discussion, a negotiation," he said. "That's what we do here. And both of these issues will generate a discussion about spending. And all of that will be addressed in the fall. I'm not opposed to negotiation ... Each side will have to give some things we don't want to give."