Healthcare

Boehner wants ‘facts first’ before defunding Planned Parenthood

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is throwing cold water on several House Republicans’ efforts to immediately defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of the group’s undercover video controversy.
 
Boehner said Thursday that he will not yet commit to blocking funding for Planned Parenthood after an anti-abortion-rights group produced two videos that attempt to portray the group as illegally profiting from fetal tissue donation. 
 
{mosads}”Facts first,” Boehner said when asked twice about Planned Parenthood funding during his Thursday news conference. 
 
Boehner’s remarks, which come several days after he ordered a congressional probe into the videos, put him at odds with the 80 House Republicans who have backed a new bill from Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) 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 said Wednesday that her legislation had been received favorably by House leadership and hoped to see a vote “as soon as possible.”
 
Republicans have seized on recently released hidden camera footage that shows two Planned Parenthood officials detailing the use of fetal tissue after abortions. One video has been edited to show an official apparently haggling for prices over the fetal tissue with buyers from a medical research firm.
 
“I think they’re awful,” Boehner said about the videos. “That’s why the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Judiciary Committee are doing an investigation. I expect that we will have hearings. The more we learn, the more it will educate our decisions in the future,” he said.
 
Boehner’s dismissive attitude toward defunding Planned Parenthood through the appropriations process indicates a cautious approach in an already difficult budget year. If Republicans attempt to bring Planned Parenthood into the annual funding fight, it could lead to a high profile – and politically dangerous – government shutdown. 
 
Minutes earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had accused the GOP of seizing on “a controversy that doesn’t exist” in an attempt to defund the group and invoked the threat of a shutdown.
 
“[Republicans] would shut down government rather than fund Planned Parenthood,” she said.
 
Outside of the appropriations process, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), have both vowed to force Congress to vote on defunding Planned Parenthood by adding amendments to this week’s must-pass highway bill. 
 
This story was updated at 12:46 p.m.
Tags Boehner Diane Black John Boehner Rand Paul Ted Cruz

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