As Republicans consider whether it's worth shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood funding, a new poll shows the majority of Americans think keeping the government running should be the priority.
Just over seven in 10 Americans say it's more important for Congress to avoid a shutdown than to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, according to a CNN poll conducted Sept. 4-8. Twenty-two percent said ending Planned Parenthood funding should be the priority.
- Mitch McConnell: Not enough votes to defund Planned Parenthood
- Hillary Clinton says GOP views on women fitting for "terrorist groups"
Federal operations will shut down on Oct. 1 if Congress doesn't pass a spending bill. However, some Republicans have threatened to vote against any spending bill that allows funds to flow to the medical provider in the wake of a series of controversial videos related to the issue of fetal tissue research. Fetal tissue research is a standard practice, and Planned Parenthood insists it has not been profiting from transferring the tissue to researchers. Even so, conservatives have expressed outrage over the videos showing Planned Parenthood employees bluntly discussing the transfer of tissue.
"Given the appalling revelations surrounding Planned Parenthood, we cannot in good moral conscience vote to send taxpayer money to this organization while still fulfilling our duty to represent our constituents. We must therefore oppose any spending measure that contains funding for Planned Parenthood," the conservative House Freedom Caucus said in a statement last week.
Some members of Congress running for president -- namely, Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul -- are also opposed to any spending bill that provides funds for Planned Parenthood. The issue is likely to come up in Wednesday evening's GOP presidential debate.
Meanwhile, with Pope Francis in Washington next week to address a joint session of Congress, lawmakers don't have much time to take up the issue. On Thursday, the House plans to vote on amendments related to the Planned Parenthood controversy. One bill would place a one-year moratorium on Planned Parenthood funding unless the group stops providing abortions (Planned Parenthood and other organizations are already barred from using federal funding to pay for abortion procedures). In conjunction with that bill, the House will also vote on an amendment to shift the funding that would have gone to Planned Parenthood to other women's health care providers.
While the plan to approve government funding without any dollars for Planned Parenthood may pass in the House, it will be harder to get through the more moderate upper chamber. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said two weeks ago that the Senate does not have the 60 votes necessary to defund Planned Parenthood.
If the debate over Planned Parenthood does slow down the passage of a spending bill and result in a government shutdown, more than 800,000 government workers would be furloughed, and more than a million would work without pay. While people would still receive Social Security checks, a shutdown would have some far-reaching consequences.
In 2013, Republicans let the government shut down for 16 days when they refused to vote for a spending bill that didn't include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
When asked if he could guarantee the government would not shut down this October, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, insisted last week, "The goal here is not to shut down the government. The goal is to stop these horrific practices of organizations selling baby parts. So that's the goal."
Incidentally, Boehner said nearly the exact same thing almost exactly two years ago, right before the 2013 shutdown. "Listen, our goal here is not to shut down the government," he said then. "Our goal is to cut spending and to stop Obamacare."