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House Leader Promises No Shutdown; House Weighs New Panel To Target Planned Parenthood

House Leader Promises No Shutdown; House Weighs New Panel To Target Planned Parenthood

September 28, 2015 — House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Sunday reiterated his pledge that the government will not shut down over Planned Parenthood funding, the Washington Post's "Post Politics" reports.

Boehner last week announced he will resign from his position (Lowery/DeBonis, "Post Politics," Washington Post, 9/27).

Background

Following the release of a series of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood, some conservatives have called for Congress to defund the organization. Further, some have said they will not support any government spending measure that includes funding for the organization. The government will shut down after Sept. 30 if lawmakers do not pass a spending measure (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/25).

Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have indicated they oppose shutting down the government (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/18).

Boehner Affirms Pledge, Tees Up Select Committee

During an interview Sunday, Boehner said there would not be a shutdown over Planned Parenthood, but he said the House would establish a special committee to investigate the organization (Washington Post, 9/27).

According to Politico, the House this week is expected to vote on whether to establish the select committee. If established, it would be chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and would be under the jurisdiction of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The committee would have its own budget, and it would have the authority to subpoena testimony and documents related to its investigation into Planned Parenthood (French, Politico, 9/28).

Meanwhile, the House will start to design a budget reconciliation package to defund Planned Parenthood, Politico reports (Politico, 9/28). The Senate needs only a simple majority to pass the budget reconciliation bill, making it likely to reach the White House, although President Obama "would almost certainly veto it" (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/25).

Comments

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the move to create the committee a "five-ring circus." She said, "We will, of course, cooperate with any fact-finding inquiry -- even though these investigations are all based on false and discredited claims, without a shred of evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood."

Laguens added, "This is really an attempt of to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood. It's an assault on every woman whose breast cancer was caught early because of Planned Parenthood and every woman who has made her own decision about whether and when to have a child."

Separately, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) noted that conservatives in the House "already have three standing committees with subpoena power conducting one-sided, biased attacks against Planned Parenthood, so it is unclear why they need a fourth" ("Post Politics," Washington Post, 9/27).

Poll: Majority of U.S. Voters Oppose Ending Planned Parenthood Funding

In related news, a new Quinnipiac University poll released Monday found that 69% of U.S. voters oppose a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding, Politico reports.

According to Politico, the poll surveyed 1,574 registered voters between Sept. 17 and 21.

The poll also found that 44% of respondents said they approved of the organization, including 50% of female respondents and 38% of male respondents. Meanwhile, 52% of voters said they opposed ending federal funding for Planned Parenthood, including 60% of female respondents and 49% of male respondents (Gass, Politico, 9/28).

Planned Parenthood Plans Rallies, Free Services

In other related news, Planned Parenthood has arranged for rallies across the country to show how widely supported the organization is, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, the activities in support of Planned Parenthood will coincide with testimony that Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is scheduled to give to one of several congressional committees investigating the organization.

Specifically, Planned Parenthood has arranged "scores of Pink Out rallies nationwide" for Tuesday, the Times reports. Further, Planned Parenthood supporters will go to Washington, D.C., by bus to deliver a petition in support of the organization that has almost two million signatures. At the same time, Planned Parenthood clinics in nearly 23 cities will offer no-cost testing for sexually transmitted infections to highlight some of the services that the organization offers that are not related to abortion care, including contraception and screenings for cancer.

Laguens said when CMP first released the videos, she realized that while the tactic "is not new ... it's a new low. And it is going to have reach." However, she expressed confidence in how the organization has handled the attacks, noting, "We're on the verge of our centennial, and we plan to be here for another 100 years" (Calmes, New York Times, 9/26).