Dems pressure GOP to call off special panel on Planned Parenthood

Dems pressure GOP to call off special panel on Planned Parenthood
© Planned Parenthood

Democrats are stepping up their calls for Republicans to abandon plans to create a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood. 

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Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayHillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech Dems introduce bill to tackle 'digital divide' Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (Wash.) and 17 other Senate Democrats, including the chamber’s No. 3 Democrat, Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference MORE (N.Y.), wrote to Republican leaders in both chambers on Friday asking that the committee not be created and linking it to the coming election of a new Speaker. 

“We understand that the House will soon have new leadership,” the senators write. “We urge you to use this change of guard as an opportunity to end the effort to create a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood, put aside political attacks on women’s health, and use the committees you are entrusted with to focus on the work women, families and communities across the country sent us here to do.”

House Republican leaders on Saturday announced that they would create a special subcommittee to investigate Planned Parenthood amid a controversy over funding for the organization that came close to causing a government shutdown this week. The healthcare organization has been under fire since the release of videos detailing its fetal tissue program.

The Senate Democrats delivered their letter a day after House Democrats seized on a comment from House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzLawmakers contemplate a tough political sell: Raising their pay Top Utah paper knocks Chaffetz as he mulls run for governor: ‘His political career should be over’ Boehner working on memoir: report MORE (R-Utah), who told CNN, referring to Planned Parenthood: “I'm not suggesting they broke the law.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) on Thursday linked Chaffetz’s statement to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) comments this week that the special committee on Benghazi had helped bring down Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIt is wrong to say 'no collusion' 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era And the winner of the Robert Mueller Sweepstakes is — Vladimir Putin MORE’s poll numbers. 

Hoyer said the Planned Parenthood committee “would be a waste of taxpayer money and Congress’s time, much in the same way that time and money have been squandered by the Select Committee on Benghazi, which Majority Leader McCarthy intimated on Tuesday was created for the express purpose of providing a forum for partisan political attacks.”

While Chaffetz said he was not suggesting Planned Parenthood broke the law, he did tell CNN that he had concerns about the organization’s spending on travel and salaries. 

Those areas were also the theme of a hearing with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards on Tuesday, where Chaffetz accused the organization of racking up “exorbitant travel expenses,” including first-class flights, charter travel and entertainment costs that included $622,706 on “blowout parties” with celebrity guests.

The Senate Democrats’ letter on Friday sharply criticized Republicans for their handling of the hearing, saying, “We believe the mistreatment of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards was unacceptable.”