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Abortion fight could derail HHS spending bill

Front of Planned Parenthood clinic
A motorist passes a Planned Parenthood clinic on May 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

By introducing an amendment that would defund Planned Parenthood, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have revived an abortion controversy that has helped kill the annual HHS spending bill for more than a decade.

Why it matters: The Senate has been doing an unusually good job moving appropriations bills, but it wouldn't be surprising if Planned Parenthood funding brings the process to an impasse yet again.

The big picture: "We are still trying to get a vote," said Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Lee. He said leadership has "not yet" indicated that will happen. If leadership does bring the amendment up for a vote, it would be "a test of our deal on poison pills," said a Democratic leadership aide, adding that the issue is "up in the air."

Separately, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that an opioids bill is a priority after the Labor Day weekend and could potentially even be passed on a voice vote. 

  • "Opioids remains a very big bipartisan priority here in the Senate," he told reporters. 
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