As more Republican lawmakers demand Congress immediately take up legislation to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood in the wake of new undercover videos revealing the sale of fetal tissue, GOP leaders are seeking a slower path to passage that can draw wide support.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said "it's our plan" to hold a vote on a measure to stop federal funding of the organization before the chamber adjourns for the summer on Aug. 7, but not before the language was carefully crafted Tuesday by a working group of lawmakers led by Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Joni Ernst of Iowa.
McConnell blocked conservative lawmakers' efforts to attach the measure to a highway funding bill that is headed to passage by Thursday, which would have sped up the process of defunding Planned Parenthood.
In the House, a Planned Parenthood defunding measure is moving even slower. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, first wants a trio of committees to investigate Planned Parenthood, which won't happen until September at the earliest.
"Obviously the speaker supports defunding Planned Parenthood and believes if we are going to be successful in enacting legislation on that issue, we need to build a case to bring Democrats and Republicans together," a top Republican aide told the Washington Examiner.
When the House passed a Planned Parenthood defunding bill in 2011, only 11 Democrats voted for the measure.
Republicans began clamoring for renewed consideration of a bill to strip taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood following undercover videos showing the organization's willingness to harvest and sell fetal body parts.
The demand for legislative action increased Tuesday, when the watchdog group Center for Medical Progress released a third, graphic video, which depicted a whistleblower technician discussing her how her biomedical company would pay Planned Parenthood clinics for fetal organs based on their condition and quality after an abortion.
"We need to let Planned Parenthood know that the American people do not support these inhumane practices," Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., said Tuesday. "Congress should vote, and vote soon, to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood."
House Republicans are particularly eager to pass a defunding bill and some can't figure out why the GOP leadership hasn't rushed legislation to the floor sponsored by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., to strip taxpayer funding from the organization for the next year.
Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million in federal funding annually.
The GOP-led House has passed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood in the past, and with a large Republican majority, a new measure would easily win approval. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Monday he supports the bill.
House conservatives said Tuesday they were disappointed their GOP leadership would not move more quickly to bring up the defunding legislation. The House plans to adjourn Wednesday for the August recess.
"I think it's stunning that there has been no response from the House other than to talk about an investigation," Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., told the Examiner. "At this point, we should move forward and defund Planned Parenthood,"
But Republican leaders say that while they have passed the measure in previous years, this time around, Republicans want to attract broader support, and believe they can accomplish that by first holding a series of hearings and conducting investigations into what practices are behind the undercover videos.
"The investigations will help us build a case," the House GOP aide told the Examiner. "If you are going to build public support and support in Congress to defund this agency, that it's the right thing to do, we have a lot of work to do."
Democrats, so far, are unmoved by the videos and say they staunchly oppose any effort to strip funding from Planned Parenthood.
They point out that Planned Parenthood is not just an abortion provider, and also includes critical health services for women.
"We're dealing with the health of American women, and they're dealing with some right wing crazy deal," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.