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TODAY the House will vote on creating a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood. This will mark the fifth committee investigating Planned Parenthood, the sixth legislative week in a row Congress has focused on attacking Planned Parenthood and women’s health --- including six floor votes in September alone and 16 votes this year to restrict women's health, three committee hearings that have ended mostly in embarrassment for Republican leadership, and the announcement that later this week the House Judiciary Committee will hold its second hearing in a month on Planned Parenthood --- which it again did not invite Planned Parenthood to participate in.  

Republican leadership has apparently become obsessed with Planned Parenthood, to the detriment of almost any other legislation.

These are efforts the American public has repeatedly made clear they do not support (see this week’s latest Rasmussen poll on the public continuing to support Planned Parenthood --- making it the 12th national poll proving the majority of the public stands with Planned Parenthood).

At the beginning of 2015, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell laid out their plan for Congress in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Their priorities included:

  • Measures authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline;

  • The Hire More Heroes Act, legislation encouraging employers to hire more of our nation’s veterans;

  • A proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment;

  • Legislation to help protect and expand America’s emerging energy boom;

  • Legislation to support innovative charter schools around the country;

  • Addressing the “insanely complex” tax code that they stated “is driving American jobs overseas”;

  • Addressing a “savage global terrorist threat that seeks to wage war on every American”;

  • Addressing “excessive regulations and frivolous lawsuits” that they said are “driving up costs for families and preventing the economy from growing”; and finally

  • Addressing a ” national debt that has Americans stealing from their children and grandchildren, robbing them of benefits that they will never see and leaving them with burdens that will be nearly impossible to repay.”

In their statement of these priorities, they said, “enacting such measures early in the new session will signal that the logjam in Washington has been broken, and help to establish a foundation of certainty and stability that both parties can build upon.”

However, few of the priorities laid out by either Boehner or McConnell have been addressed. Instead, Congress has narrowly avoided one potential government shutdown, and is expected to face another shutdown fight this December.

While congressional leadership obsesses over women’s access to basic health care, our country is paying the price. Just last week, the 9/11 first responder health care bill, a bill designed to continue to provide care for first responders who risked their lives on September 11, expired; Perkins student loans, the nation’s oldest student loan program, expired; and the 50-year old Land Water Conservation Fund expired. Because of Congress’ inaction, the Export-Import bank remains shut down, the first time in its 81-year history.

Here is what we know:

  • These attacks are unabashedly political - “Let’s Make Planned Parenthood the Next Benghazi:” Leaders have proclaimed that they will continue to investigate Planned Parenthood ---  despite multiple investigations showing no wrongdoing.  House Majority Leader and possible candidate for Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) revealed the blatantly political nature of the attacks on Planned Parenthood, threatening to do to the organization what he claims to have done to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: “When you look at the poll numbers of Hillary Clinton, they’ve dropped, unfavorables pretty high” as a result of the ongoing investigating, and “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee.”

  • Certain Republicans do not believe that women’s health care is “legitimate” health care --- Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rob Portman(R-OH) have both stated that they --- and other politicians --- should be the ones to decide what constitutes “legitimate” health care for women.

Tomorrow, instead of listening to the American people, who have been clear they have no interest in Congress continuing to pursue this wrongheaded agenda, the Judiciary Committee will hold yet another political hearing --- again inviting three longtime anti-abortion activists to testify before the committee.  

Senate Democrats recently wrote to Republican leaders on the change of leadership, raising serious concerns about the political nature of these attacks, stating,

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.”

Americans don’t want their members of Congress focused on restricting reproductive health care. It’s time for Congress to give up this obsession, and get back to work.

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