GOP wants details on Planned Parenthood oversight
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A group of Republican senators is pushing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for details on its oversight of human fetal tissue use in the wake of a series of controversial undercover videos that have sparked a political firestorm. 

Republican Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Trump: 'Great to see' Pelosi plan to lower drug prices Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices MORE (Iowa), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTrump administration floats background check proposal to Senate GOP Republicans wary of US action on Iran Democratic senator warns O'Rourke AR-15 pledge could haunt party for years MORE (Wis.) and Joni Ernst (Iowa) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell asking for details on the department's "enforcement and oversight policies and procedures governing the research, transfer, and sale of human fetal tissue." 


"If HHS makes no effort to independently audit or otherwise verify such assertions by federal grantees, then we can certainly understand why the Department might lack actual knowledge of violations of applicable laws and regulations. In this event, however, we would seriously question the grounds for concluding that no violations have occurred," the senators wrote in the letter, which was sent on Monday but released Tuesday. 

The move comes among Republican infighting over whether or not to use a short-term government spending bill to defund Planned Parenthood over the group's handling of fetal tissue. 

The Senate is expected to pass a short-term spending bill that funds Planned Parenthood this week after nearly every Democrat and eight Republican senators voted against legislation that would have stripped federal funding for the organization. 

Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, is also making her first public appearance on Capitol Hill Tuesday before the House Oversight Committee.

The three senators want HHS to hand over any reviews or analysis on Planned Parenthood's certification since 2010 that it is complying with federal law on the use of fetal tissue. 

They also want to know if HHS has a process to determine if an organization that is receiving funding is complying with fetal tissue law, as well as if the department has audited organizations involved with fetal tissue research. If HHS has done audits, the senators want a breakdown of how many have happened and how many found violations of federal law. 

It's not the first time Republican senators have pushed HHS for answers on its oversight of Planned Parenthood. 

Grassley and Johnson, as well Ernst and Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump McConnell support for election security funds leaves Dems declaring victory Paul objection snags confirmation of former McConnell staffer MORE (R-Mo.), separately sent letters to Jim Esquea, HHS's assistant secretary for Legislation, in August. 

But the senators said in their letter to Burwell that Esquea’s response letter "not only inadequately responds to the questions raised in our inquiries, but it also raises additional concerns about the adequacy of the Department’s oversight of HHS grant recipients that engage in activities involving fetal tissue."