Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Friday took steps to speed up consideration of legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, a bill his conservative rank-and-file are pushing in the wake of two videos showing organization officials haggling over the sale of fetal body parts.
The Kentucky Republican has not put the measure on the Senate schedule, so it is not clear when it will be considered.
But McConnell announced he would use a rule to allow the measure to move to the Senate floor without first churning through the committee process.
McConnell's move comes after he fielded complaints from a group of Senate conservatives who had hoped to make the provision an amendment to a highway funding bill now up for debate.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, delivered a scathing floor speech denouncing McConnell for refusing conservative amendments, including one to defund Planned Parenthood and another that would force lawmakers and the president to enroll in Obamacare.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the author of the Planned Parenthood provision, announced Friday that he has introduced it as a standalone bill.
Paul had developed a close relationship with McConnell but was angry after McConnell refused to allow an amendment on the organization to be attached to the highway bill
McConnell's decision to move quickly on a standalone measure could serve to satisfy conservatives, who might otherwise make it more difficult to finish the highway funding bill organization.
Paul and other Republicans want to stop the flow of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds into the organization, which provides abortions and health services.
Undercover videos that have surfaced this month show two different Planned Parenthood officials negotiating prices for fetal body parts.
"Not one more taxpayer dollar should go to Planned Parenthood and I intend to make that goal a reality," Paul said Friday.