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Wagner says no shutdown as House moves ahead with 'pro-life' legislation

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin
Official photo

The divisions among House Republicans over the funding of Planned Parenthood that contributed to Speaker John Boehner’s decision to step down next month will not force a government shutdown this week, according to Ballwin Republican Ann Wagner.

The congresswoman blames the Senate for “failing” to advance legislation blocking federal funding to the group as part of a government spending plan. Instead, she says the House will take up separate “pro-life legislation” this week to give states more power to shift federal funds away from the group.

“I always believe in empowering state and local governments, as much as possible, to get things done, but the defunding of Planned Parenthood has already failed in the U.S. Senate,” Wagner told St. Louis Public Radio.

Wagner says she "passionately" supports cutting federal funding from Planned Parenthood and says it will likely take a rules change to strengthen the hand of Senate Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says that, without the votes to override a presidential veto of legislation defunding Planned Parenthood, he’s not willing to risk a government shutdown over the issue. There are 54 Senate Republicans, far short of the 67 votes necessary to override.

Wagner says, legislation sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., would bypass the current divisive federal budget debate by targeting Medicaid dollars in a standalone bill. 

“Remember, that of the $500 million that goes to Planned Parenthood, $348 million of it is Medicaid.”  Duffy’s bill is not part of the budget package being negotiated this week ;and even if it were to pass both chambers and then be vetoed by the president, it still couldn’t be used as leverage for a shutdown.

While Republicans control both chambers, their edge in the Senate doesn’t even give them the 60 votes necessary to easily overcome partisan filibusters. Senate Democrats continue to use that to their advantage by blocking the regular budget process and refusing to allow votes on any of the dozen bills used to fund the federal government. They insist that Republicans negotiate over lifting spending caps.  So far, Republicans have refused to do so, setting the stage for a short-term funding measure known as a continuing resolution.

Now that Boehner has announced his resignation, most lawmakers say they expect to see  the continuing resolution pass by the midnight Wednesday deadline to avoid a government shutdown.  Even so, barring a surprise, that short-term funding plan is only expected to keep the lights on until early December.

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