The Senate vote to defund Planned Parenthood failed in a 53-46 vote on Monday (60 votes were needed), but many on social media took note that two Republicans voted against the bill: Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Kirk’s vote was expected, as he is in a blue state and facing a tough reelection. McConnell’s vote, however, caught many off guard, and they assumed he had betrayed his Republican colleagues. They even voiced their disgust online, but they did not realize McConnell was playing a much smarter game, one that would allow the bill to live on instead of die after a single defeat.
Steve Eichler of TeaParty.org misled many of his followers when he sent an email attacking McConnell over the vote, calling him “an arch-enabler of Obama’s anti-freedom designs. We’re sick of this phony and demanding his dismissal.” He then asked followers for donations to do that. It should be noted that TeaParty.org, unlike real Tea Party groups, does not provide any visible support to Tea Party politicians, candidates, or local chapters. They seem to exist only to serve themselves, so it is doubtful that they give anything to the cause, while benefiting from Tea Party supporter donations.
In a statement to TheBlaze, McConnell spokesman Michael Brumas explained the vote in further detail:
Leader McConnell is a strong supporter of the legislation and in fact was a co-sponsor when the bill was introduced last week. Under Senate procedure, when a cloture motion to proceed to the measure fails to pass with the required 60 votes, the Majority Leader may switch his ‘yes’ vote to ‘no,’ which allows him bring it up for reconsideration at a future time. Leader McConnell would have voted in favor of the bill but in order to preserve his right to bring it up again, he simply changed his vote to ‘no.’
McConnell knew the bill did not have the 60 votes needed to pass. There are only 54 Republicans in the Senate, meaning six Democrats would have to cross over and support defunding Planned Parenthood. Only two Democrats crossed over: Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. With Kirk voting no, and Lindsey Graham not present to vote (he was the only senator running for President who did not return to vote), the gap was too wide to close.
With McConnell switching his vote to “no,” he ensures the bill still has life. Should more Planned Parenthood videos turn public opinion (and some Democrats), McConnell can call for a new vote. Without the switch, the Republicans would have to start from square one in the legislative process, allowing Democrats more options to stop the bill. So, contrary to what some may say, McConnell was playing it smart, and gave the “Defund Planned Parenthood” movement a second chance.