Senate Democrats blocked a bill on Monday night to defund Planned Parenthood without having watched the undercover videos documenting the organization's involvment in harvesting aborted baby organs and selling them to biotech companies.
"I have not seen them," Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire told me after the vote.
"I'm sorry, what's your name?" asked Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii in response to a simple yes-or-no question. "Can you call my comms director?"
"I have not seen them, no," Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania told me last week.
As New York senator Chuck Schumer stepped into a senators-only elevator, I asked him the same yes-or-no question. "Shut the door," Schumer told an aide.
Only one Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, told me that she had seen any of the videos. McCaskill agreed that the videos were disturbing, but she added that "that's not the point. The point is to prevent abortions by making sure that women can get birth control."
Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton called the videos "disturbing" last week, but released a video today in which she proclaimed she was proud to stand with Planned Parenthood. It's not clear if Clinton has actually seen any of the undercover videos.
The measure to defund Planned Parenthood, which needed 60 votes to advance, received 53 votes on Monday night. But Republicans are really only 5 Senate votes shy of advancing the measure because Mitch McConnell voted against it for procedural reasons (a "no" vote allows him to bring the bill up again), and Republican Lindsey Graham skipped the vote so he could campaign for president in New Hampshire.
The tally was a big improvement from an effort in 2011 to defund Planned Parenthood that received just 42 votes. Since 2011, Republicans have gained 7 Senate seats on net. And three senators who voted to block the bill to defund Planned Parenthood in 2011--Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Joe Manchin--voted to allow it to proceed on Monday night.
In 2007, eight Senate Republicans opposed defunding Planned Parenthood. n 2011, five Senate Republicans opposed defunding Planned Parenthood. On Monday night, just one Republican, Mark Kirk of Illinois, voted to filibuster the bill.
"We recognize that cutting off this politically connected abortion mega-marketer is a long-term project, and we are encouraged that today's tally represents a marked increase in opposition to Planned Parenthood since 2011, when only 42 senators voted to support a cutoff," said National Right to Life Committee president Carol Tobias in a statement.