The Subcommittee (Lipstick and Laughs)

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Something about famous last words might go here, but that still doesn’t sound right. Infamous openings? Let us check in with Emma Dumain of Roll Call:

House Republicans insist their new committee to investigate Planned Parenthood won’t be political.

And if it sounds like a setup, well―

But lawmakers and aides on both sides of the aisle are raising eyebrows at the optics of GOP leaders soliciting buy-in from outside groups as they make decisions about which members will sit on the special committee.

The original plan was to convene a subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee to investigate the women’s health organization and abortion provider, which is under fire after secret film footage seemed to implicate Planned Parenthood officials with illegally selling fetal tissues, a charge the group denied.

Under that initial framework, the select committee would have drawn from in-house resources, including mostly staff. And while membership on both sides of the aisle would still be subject to appointment by their respective party leaders, the pool would be restricted to those members already sitting on Energy and Commerce.

Outside advocates and leaders in the anti-abortion community urged Republican leaders to expand the committee to lawmakers outside Energy and Commerce to include more stalwarts of their movement. GOP leadership agreed and has also listened to outside advice on exactly whom to appoint.

―yeah, this is the House of Representatives, and, yes, Speaker Boehner is, technically, still as in charge as he ever was.

There is actually a lot going on, here; it’s worth considering. To wit, the underlying pretense is not to actually convene a Planned Parenthood investigation to figure out how goes the whazzat and the whozow, but, rather, to stack movement stalwarts on an A-list political inquisition. The usual manner of issue-specific scorecards are in play; Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee approves of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN04), but also rolled out a wish list of who else should be on the subcommittee; the Susan B. Anthony List wants the stage to be “a platform for women who speak to this issue”―and of course they do―but only certain kinds of women. Not all Republican women are anti-woman obedient conservative enough:

A specific target is Rep. Renee Ellmers. The North Carolina Republican helped get a bill pulled from the floor in January that would have allowed a woman to have an abortion after 20 weeks only in a case of rape, incest or danger to her life, and only if the woman reported the rape to the authorities first.

Ellmers wasn’t the only Republican woman who found the language overly burdensome and fought to have it removed. But she led the charge, and the vote — scheduled to coincide with the annual March for Life — was postponed.

“Her actions last January betrayed the trust of the pro-life movement,” Nance said in a statement.

“Although her office has reached out to the pro-life coalition in an effort to mend fences, the wounds are still festering. While we appreciate her willingness to investigate Planned Parenthood, this is too important an issue to leave to anyone who could potentially distract from the overall mission of this Committee.”

Douglas Johnson, the federal affairs director at the National Right to Life Committee, was less charitable: “To now reward her with a seat on the special panel would be inappropriate, to put it mildly.”

Right.

This is your United States House of Representatives.

____________________

Dumain, Emma. “House GOP Looks Outside for Advice on Planned Parenthood Panel”. 218. Roll Call. 7 October 2015.

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