Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has initiated a fast-track process to ensure that a bill to defund Planned Parenthood is brought up for a floor vote, after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) slammed him for allegedly dodging a vote on the legislation.
McConnell, a Republican, began "Rule 14" on Friday to allow the bill to skip the committee process, The Hill reported. The bill comes in the wake of the release of two secretly taped videos that appear to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing delivery of fetal parts.
"There are a host of amendments that the American people are focused on, things like defunding Planned Parenthood after the gruesome video," Cruz, a Republican from Texas and presidential candidate, said during a floor speech earlier during the day. "The majority leader doesn't want to vote on that. That's actually something the American people are focused on."
Cruz and his Republican colleagues Sen. Rand Paul from Kentucky and Mike Lee from Utah are seeking to attach amendments to a highway funding bill to strip the country's largest abortion provider of federal funding.
According to its annual report, Planned Parenthood received taxpayer-funded government health services grant of $540.6 million in 2014, which is about 45 percent of its annual revenue.
In one of the two videos, Dr. Deborah Nucatola of Planned Parenthood says: "You know, we've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm going to basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact."
Paul, who is also a Republican presidential candidate, has started a petition to force a vote on the bill.
"The more I learn about Planned Parenthood's racket, aborting unborn children and then selling off their organs, the more my head spins. … One video even showed Planned Parenthood officials squabbling over the price of aborted baby parts because one official joked she wanted to buy a Lamborghini," Paul wrote. "I'm not about to let Planned Parenthood off the hook. And I'm not about to let politicians and our media sweep this scandal under the rug."
He added, "I'm prepared to use every Senate rule at my disposal to force my colleagues on record whether they like it or not. Under Senate rules, if enough Senators are willing to stand with me and sign a petition demanding a vote, there will be no stopping you and me."
The Senate will be in session Sunday, but it is not known when the bill will come up for voting.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said her department will review all information surrounding the videos.
"I'm aware of those matters generally from the media, and from some inquiries that have been made to the Department of Justice, and again at this point we're going to review all the information and determine what steps, if any, to take at the appropriate time," she told reporters.