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Congress Continues Work on a CR Prior to October 1st Deadline

On Thursday, the Senate voted down a continuing resolution (CR) that would have funded the government through December 11 but defund Planned Parenthood for one year. The bill would have redirected the mandatory savings to community health centers, unless Planned Parenthood agreed to stop performing abortions. The vote was an attempt to appease conservatives who may be willing to shutdown the government rather than vote for a spending bill that includes funding for the organization, and to demonstrate that such a funding bill would ultimately not have the votes to pass. The chamber voted 47-52 to end debate on the CR, short of the 60 votes necessary. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) broke ranks with their party and voted against moving forward on the bill, although not all due to the Planned Parenthood language. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was the only Democrat who voted in favor of the CR. The president is also on record saying he will veto any spending bill that reaches his desk that does not fund Planned Parenthood. Shortly after the failed vote, the Senate unveiled plans to move on to a clean, short-term CR that can be supported by Senate Democrats as well. The bill would keep the government operating through December 11, 2015, and would provide funding at the annual rate that conforms to the topline discretionary spending limit established by the Budget Control Act (BCA) for fiscal year (FY) 2016 -- $1.017 trillion. A vote on the bill is expected early this week, and the president has already said he will sign it. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has indicated that the Democratic caucus would be likely to support a clean CR as well. More than thirty conservatives in the House, however, have pledged to vote against any funding bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood. Both chambers must pass a measure funding the federal government before October 1 in order to avoid a government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues to express assurances that there will be no government shutdown. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the House will take up the clean CR after it is passed by the Senate. The December 11 deadline will provide time for negotiations with the White House on a longer-term budget deal. During negotiations, Democrats will push for a reconfiguration of sequester spending caps, raising of the debt ceiling, and the extension of certain tax code provisions. Congressional Republicans, while wanting to raise the spending caps on defense items, are unlikely to raise the discretionary spending caps unless it is offset and includes entitlement reforms.

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