An effort to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of controversial videos showing officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue failed in the U.S. Senate this afternoon.
Senate Democrats blocked the GOP-led effort to strip the organization of the roughly $528 million in federal funding it receives each year. The Senate vote on moving ahead with the measure failed on a 53-46 tally, short of the 60 needed to move it ahead. Two Democrats, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted with Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who supports defunding Planned Parenthood, voted against the measure, a procedural step that will allow it to be brought up again.
Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions voted to advance the defunding bill. Both were among the 50 Senators who sent a letter last week to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell demanding an investigation into Planned Parenthood. In a separate letter, the Senators called on Attorney General Loretta Lynch to launch a separate Department of Justice investigation.
Shelby said he will continue to support efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
“The recent videos depicting Planned Parenthood’s practices are extremely disturbing and underscore why taxpayer dollars should not support this organization,” he said. “I am a proud cosponsor of legislation that fully protects federal funding for women’s health care, but also redirects taxpayer dollars away from Planned Parenthood. I believe that human life is a gift, which is why I am adamantly pro-life and have consistently opposed taxpayer dollars being used to fund abortions.”
Two House committees are currently investigating the videos to see if Planned Parenthood violated federal laws against selling fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood has apologized for the tone of the videos but has denied any wrongdoing.
The Center for Medical Progress, which made the undercover videos, said it will be releasing as many as 10 more in the coming weeks.