Dem senator: ‘Political attacks’ blocking female veterans bill

Greg Nash
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Wednesday accused Republicans of letting “partisan political attacks” weigh down a bill aimed at improving female veterans’ healthcare. 
Murray’s legislation, which was set to be taken up by the Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Wednesday, would expand the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) fertility services and lift a ban on veterans’ access to in vitro fertilization. 
{mosads}But the Washington Democrat said she asked Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who chairs the committee, to remove her bill from the agenda after she said that Republicans backed “poison pill” amendments to the legislation. 
“I am so disappointed — and truly angry that Republicans on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee decided yesterday to leap at the opportunity to pander to their base, to poison the well with the political cable news battle of the day, and turn their backs on wounded veterans,” she added. “This is shameful.”
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) defended his amendments. He said three were focused on “good government,” while another would prevent the VA from working with organizations “that take human aborted babies’ organs and sell them.”
“It wasn’t to kill in vitro fertilization,” he added. 
Tillis’s amendment comes as Republicans are up in arms after two secretly recorded videos were released showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the preservation of fetal tissue, as well as the cost of saving and using the tissue. 
Eleven senators sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, urging them to examine whether the organization a violated federal law that bans the sale of fetal tissue. 
Republicans are also renewing their push to defund the organization. 
But Murray suggested that the push against her legislation was part of a fight to restrict women’s healthcare. 
“We can have that fight — we’ve had it many times before — but don’t pull veterans into the middle of it,” she added. “Helping our wounded warriors start families should rise above the petty political fights.”
But Tillis rejected the notion that his amendments were “political attacks,” adding that “the gimmicks and the old rhetoric in this chamber need to stop.”
A Democratic aide slammed Republicans, suggesting they were “pandering to their Tea Party base.” 
“We knew Republicans would overplay their hand and wouldn’t be able to resist pandering to their Tea Party base, but even we didn’t think they would go so far so fast,” the aide said, adding that the move puts a spotlight “on their extreme and cynical agenda.”
Updated at 4:08 p.m.
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