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McConnell: No Government Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood Because It Would Distract from Scandal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared today that there will not be a government shutdown because it would distract from the effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has said he's open to whatever motions are necessary to achieve this, including potentially shutting down the government by blocking the spending bill to fund government operations at the end of September.

"We're not doing government shutdowns and we're not threatening to default on the national debt," McConnell said at a press conference.

"You may have heard me say this before, but one of my favorite old Kentucky saying is there's no education in the second kick of a mule. We've been down this path before. This is a tactic that's been tried going back to the '90s frequently by Republican majorities. And it always had the same ending: that the focus is on the fact that the government is shut down, not on what the underlying issue that is being protested is," he said.

"So look. What Planned Parenthood is engaged in is truly outrageous. The videos are beyond disturbing. The question is what is the best way to go forward."

McConnell noted Monday's vote on a defunding bill from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), which failed to pass cloture on a 53-46 vote.

The majority leader said that worked "to put senators or record as to how they felt about going forward with a bill that would have taken that funding currently going to Planned Parenthood and used it for women's health, not a penny less for women's health under the proposal that Senator Ernst and Senator Lankford were promoting. And that presumably would have gone to community health centers."

"In my state, for example, there are 134 community health centers and two Planned Parenthood clinics," he added. "So not a penny less for women's health, but spent in a way that's actually consistent with the law."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has launched an investigation into the videos showing Planned Parenthood officials brokering body parts.

"So, Senator Grassley is going to be investigating. As you know, he has a record as a very thorough and tough investigator, the author of the whistleblower law," McConnell said. "The -- we intend to continue to pursue the facts, and nobody is better at doing that than Chuck Grassley, and we will look at other opportunities to make our voices heard on Planned Parenthood."