GOP scrambles to avoid shutdown

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Republican leaders in Congress scrambled Thursday to avoid a government shutdown next week as a spending bill cutting funding for Planned Parenthood stalled in the Senate.

The bill, which would have needed 60 votes to advance didn’t even get a majority, failing 47-52.

Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said his chamber would begin voting Monday on a “clean” spending bill that would fund the federal government, including monies for the controversial women’s health organization, until Dec. 11.

That measure would also need 60 votes to progress in the Senate – meaning McConnell has to round up 13 more Republicans to vote for it – and then has to pass the House by Wednesday next week to avoid a shutdown when current funding legislation runs out Oct. 1.

House GOP leaders were huddled behind closed doors Thursday afternoon, one Republican staffer told FedScoop, and plan to meet with the whole caucus Friday morning. Many House Republicans have said they will not vote for any spending measure that includes funding for Planned Parenthood – even though federal cash, by law, can’t be used to fund abortions but only to support contraception, family planning and other women’s medical services the group offers.

Nonetheless, lobbyists and other Hill watchers generally agreed that there would be enough votes to pass a clean bill, but only with support from the Democrats – something which will likely enrage Tea Party supporters and may prompt a rebellion against Speaker John Boehner.

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