Republican leaders are eyeing an obscure budget tool called reconciliation to end funding for Planned Parenthood -- although it wouldn't necessarily prevent a government shutdown.
House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday morning that "reconciliation is an option." A Republican move to defund Planned Parenthood was killed in the Senate in early August because Democrats had enough votes to block the measure.
Reconciliation's appeal lies in the fact that it requires only a simple majority to pass the Senate instead of a filibuster-proof 60 votes. Its use is generally limited to budget and tax issues, and it can only be used on one budget resolution each year in the Senate. House and Senate Republicans had hoped to use the process to defund Obamacare, which itself was passed by Democrats using budget reconciliation in 2010.
At this point, with just a few days left before the end of the fiscal year, Congress will still need to pass a separate spending bill to fund the government to avoid a shutdown. That bill would merely continue the operations of government at current spending levels and is expected to be a short-term extension for at most a few months.
But later in the year Republicans could pass a longer-term spending bill using budget reconciliation that strips out Planned Parenthood funding. The hope for GOP leaders is that their members will vote to avoid a shutdown at the end of September with the promise of ending the group's funding later this year.
The White House has promised that President Obama will veto any spending bill that cuts off Planned Parenthood's funding, which could lead to a government shutdown. So Congress could avoid a shutdown now, but would face the exact same veto threat if they tried to cut out Planned Parenthood funding in a few months.
After the publication of several undercover videos that show Planned Parenthood executives bluntly discussing the procurement of fetal body parts for medical research, conservatives have stepped up pressure on their leadership to cut off the group's federal funding during the fall budgeting process. Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million each year in federal funding, and says the majority of those dollars come from Medicaid reimbursements for providing preventative healthcare to low-income women.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, like Boehner, also says that reconciliation is an option "that's on the table," though Senate Republicans have not made any decisions yet.
Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, meet with the president Thursday afternoon at the White House about negotiations over the spending showdown.
CBS News' John Nolen contributed to this report