WASHINGTON -- Republican efforts to defund family health care provider Planned Parenthood will fall flat in Congress as long a Democrat is in the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday.
Before Congress left for summer recess last month, McConnell pushed through a procedural vote that would have stripped federal funds from the provider.
"We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome we like," he said during an interview with Kentucky TV station WYMT. "The president has the pen. If he doesn’t sign it, it doesn’t happen. We voted on that already in the Senate and we will vote on it again."
Giving Kentuckians a lesson on constitutional procedure, McConnell stressed the limits of the legislative branch.
"I would remind all of your viewers: The way you make a law in this country, the Congress has to pass it and the president has to sign it," he said. "The president has made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new president hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood."
Averting a government shutdown, McConnell said in the wide-ranging interview, will be the most immediate concern facing Congress when it returns from its August recess.
Senate Democrats have pressed the Republican majority for budget negotiations since before the summer recess, threatening to block spending bills that don't lift sequestration caps on domestic programs. Republicans, McConnell said, have worked to only lift the caps on defense spending.
"The Senate Democrats have a big enough number to prevent us from doing things," he said. "They prevented us from doing any of the bills that appropriate money for the government, thereby forcing a negotiation when we go back in after Labor Day, which I’ll be engaged in with the administration and others to try to sort out how much we’re going to spend and where we’re going to spend it."
To get a Republican president, McConnell added, the party will need to pick a nominee that "can appeal to purple states."