House votes to double budget for Planned Parenthood investigation


The House on Thursday approved an additional $800,000 for the select committee investigating abortion provider practices, doubling its budget for the year.

Lawmakers passed the measure along party lines, 234-181, as Democrats called for the investigative panel to be disbanded instead.

{mosads}The panel is now likely to spend nearly $1.6 million in total over the course of just under a year after the House previously approved a $790,000 budget. It is expected to issue a report before it disbands at the end of this year. 

The House created the investigative committee in October of last year to investigate Planned Parenthood and abortion providers’ handling of fetal tissue. 

The move was interpreted at the time as a way for GOP leaders to placate conservatives who threatened to oppose a government spending bill if it included federal funds for Planned Parenthood. 

Republicans trained their ire on Planned Parenthood after anti-abortion activists released undercover videos last year accusing the organization of illegally selling aborted fetuses’ body parts. Planned Parenthood denied the allegations. 

Federal law allows suppliers to charge for reimbursement costs associated with transporting, processing and storing fetal tissue, but bars profits from the tissue itself.

The panel has been investigating researchers’ fetal tissue procurement practices and the ways abortion providers receive federal funding. 

“It is now up to us to build on the work, to hold the government accountable, and stop these affronts to human dignity,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the committee’s chairwoman.  

Democrats have accused Republicans on the panel of trying to intimidate medical researchers who use fetal tissue for such work as developing vaccines.

“This panel and its investigation are a disgrace to this House of Representatives,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), the panel’s top Democrat. “Instead of providing more funding for this divisive and dangerous inquisition, Congress should shut down this panel and put an end to its shameful proceedings.”

The abortion practices probe is still on track to spend far less than the select panel to investigate the 2012 attack in Benghazi. The Select Committee on Benghazi spent nearly $7 million over more than two years by the time it released its final report in July.

The Benghazi panel will officially shut down at the end of this year. It is still in the process of archiving records and clearing documents with the Obama administration for public release, according to a spokesman.

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