A bill to strip all federal funding from Planned Parenthood failed to overcome Democratic opposition to advance in the Senate late Monday. The vote, 53-46, fell seven votes short of the 60 required to open debate on the bill. Senators voted mostly along party lines with only a few exceptions: Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois sided with Democrats to block the defunding bill, while Democrats Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virigina voted with Republicans in favor of opening debate.
Slate’s Amanda Marcotte wrote earlier Monday that the decision to go ahead with the vote in the face of certain defeat was a signal of the deepening hold on the Republican party of the right-wing base, whose demands for increasing restrictions on abortion have been galvanized by videos alleging unethical conduct by Planned Parenthood, released over the past few weeks by the anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress.
The importance for Republicans of showing up for the vote, regardless of its ultimate chance of success, was on display in a C-SPAN studio in Washington D.C. Monday night, which held the three sitting senators who are also contenders for the GOP presidential nomination. Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio stayed for the vote rather than travel to New Hampshire for the 2016 season’s first major candidates’ forum, but were finished in time to participate by satellite, while 11 other candidates were whisked through rapid-fire questioning at St. Anselm College in Manchester.