McCarthy: Defund Planned Parenthood during investigation

McCarthy: Defund Planned Parenthood during investigation
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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday that Congress should immediately defund Planned Parenthood until the group can clear its name of any wrongdoing in the controversy following two viral videos.

The No. 2 House Republican said he supported a “moratorium” on federal funding from Planned Parenthood – the highest-ranking Republican in every chamber to support defunding the group.

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“I just think, regardless of where anybody sits on the issue, is this the best place that tax dollars should be spent?” McCarthy said in his strongest public comments on the issue. “Shouldn’t, at the very least, we withhold tax dollars until the investigation is done?”

His position puts him in contrast with the approach favored by House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE (R-Ohio).

John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE said last Thursday, however, that he wanted to see “facts first” from Congress's investigations before committing to defund Planned Parenthood.

McCarthy's spokesman Mike Long also told The Hill last week that he wanted to wait for "all the facts before legislative action is discussed," when asked about whether the leader supported a moratorium of funds. 

Over the last week, Boehner has faced increased pressure to move toward defunding the group, with 55 House Republicans sending him a letter on Friday requesting a vote.

Planned Parenthood has come under strong scrutiny in Congress over the last two weeks after an anti-abortion group began releasing videos that claimed the group had illegally profited from its fetal tissue donation program.

As many as 12 videos are expected to come out against Planned Parenthood over the next few months, which McCarthy said “will continue to raise more questions.”

Officials have strongly denied the claims in numerous statements, but are already facing subpoena threats from the House Energy and Commerce Committee if the subjects of the videos are not made available for hearings. McCarthy said he believes hearings can help “get to the bottom” of the controversy.

Without outlining a specific strategy to defund the group, McCarthy said there were multiple options, including a standalone bill.  

McCarthy then voiced support for a new bill from Rep. Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackOvernight Finance: House passes .2T funding package for 2018 | FTC launches Equifax probe | Mnuchin defends honeymoon jet request | Floor vote on House Budget unlikely until October Overnight Finance: GOP plans to unveil tax framework in late September | Critical stretch for Trump tax team | Equifax CEO called to testify | Sanders unveils single-payer bill MORE (R-Tenn.) – which has more than 130 cosponsors – that would immediately block Planned Parenthood's funding for one year while the government investigates. A similar bill has been introduced in the upper chamber by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).

Black's spokesman told The Hill last week that her legislation had been received favorably by House leadership and hoped to see a vote "as soon as possible."

- Scott Wong contributed.