This week, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) submitted an appropriations amendment that would have defunded the House panel currently investigating Planned Parenthood over allegations the organization is selling “aborted baby parts.”
The amendment was defeated 28–20 — but for the first time, a Republican congressman crossed party lines and voted to end the congressional investigation into the women’s health care provider.
— Rep. Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) May 17, 2016
Rep. David Jolly (R-FL), currently vying for Marco Rubio’s open Senate seat, voted for McCollum’s amendment. Defending his vote on Facebook, Jolly said that the committee is an unnecessary use of millions of taxpayer dollars and of Congress’ time.
“The truth is, we already have had three panels look into the matter and we don’t need a fourth. We’re either a party of less government or not,” he said.
The Select Panel on Infant Lives, named by the conservative lawmakers who initially formed it, was convened following allegations made last summer by the Center for Medical Progress’ widely-debunked sting videos.
The central claim made in those videos — that Planned Parenthood illegally profits off fetal remains — has not been substantiated despite numerous state and federal investigations. In January, after a months-long investigation, a Texas grand jury decided not to indict Planned Parenthood and moved to indict the videographers who made the sting videos instead.
Across the aisle, many Democrats in Congress have already denigrated the ongoing investigation as a waste of time and money. In April, 98 Democratic lawmakers wrote to the chairman of the committee and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) urging that the committee be disbanded, saying it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars and is serving “no other purpose than to carry out politically-motivated attacks on Planned Parenthood.”
However, the House panel continues to operate, going after not only Planned Parenthood but also the scientists who use fetal tissue for medical research, searching for the cure to debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The GOP Committee Obsessed With Planned Parenthood Just Took A Darker TurnHealth by CREDIT: AP Photo, Molly Riley The federal investigation into the unfounded claim that Planned Parenthood…thinkprogress.orgRep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) even compared the crusade to the Salem witch trials.
“This time, those being burned at the stake are our scientists, who hold future medical breakthroughs in their hands,” said Speier at a March hearing convened by the committee. “They are joined by brave women’s health care workers who are simply trying to care for their patients.”
Though repeated investigations have turned up no credible evidence of wrongdoing, 24 states have moved forward with attempts to cut off Planned Parenthood funding anyway — a move that, since Planned Parenthood does not use federal funding to provide abortions, in reality means cutting off federal funding for family planning services like birth control, STD testing, and cancer screenings. In April, the Obama administration warned all 50 states that attempts to strip funding from Planned Parenthood is likely illegal.