WASHINGTON, D.C. –(ENEWSPF)–May 26, 2016. Yesterday, Select Panel Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky denounced the top 10 abuses committed by Republicans on the Select Investigative Panel. The floor statement comes the day after over 180 Democrats called on Speaker Ryan to disband the wasteful and abusive Select Panel.
Top Ten Abuses of the “Select Investigative Panel” Republicans
Yesterday, 181 Democrats wrote to Speaker Ryan to ask that the Republican Select Panel to Attack Women’s Health be shut down. From the outset, this investigation has been a political weapon to punish women, doctors, and researchers; not an objective, fair-minded, or fact-based search for the truth.
Here are the top ten reasons to shut this partisan Panel down immediately.
- THE SELECT PANEL IS A WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY: Republicans are wasting taxpayer dollars chasing inflammatory allegations of anti-abortion extremists. Three Republican-led House committees, 12 states, and one grand jury have already investigated charges that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue for profit. None found evidence of wrongdoing.
- THE SELECT PANEL IS AN ATTACK ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS: Republicans are using the Panel as part of their campaign to deny women access to legal reproductive health services, including abortions. The Panel comes at the time when Republicans have voted repeatedly to defund Planned Parenthood – which provides health services to over 3 million women and men each year—eliminate family planning services and restrict access to abortion.
- THE SELECT PANEL IS HARMING SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH: Republicans are using the Panel to intimidate scientists into stopping legal fetal tissue research on treatment and cures for diseases and conditions that afflict millions of Americans, including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and spinal cord injuries. Some medical research efforts have already been cancelled.
- THE SELECT PANEL IS JUST PARTISAN POLITICS: Republicans are conducting an unfair, one-sided, and partisan campaign. They have refused to put indicted video maker David Daleiden (the manufacturer of highly-edited videos making false charges against Planned Parenthood) under oath while issuing subpoenas and demanding sworn testimony from law-abiding researchers and doctors. Republicans have suppressed facts that contradict their preferred partisan narratives, for example, they refused to hear directly from tissue procurement companies while publicly accusing them of misconduct based on misleading and inaccurate staff-created “exhibits” that lack any sourcing or foundational information.
- THE SELECT PANEL IS A McCARTHY-LIKE WITCH HUNT: Mirroring the bullying behavior of Senator Joe McCarthy, Republicans are demanding that universities and clinics “name names” of their researchers, graduate students, lab technicians, clinic personnel, and doctors. When Democrat Jerry Nadler asked Chair Blackburn to explain why she needs to amass this database of names, she responded: “No, Sir, I am not going to do that.”
- THE SELECT PANEL THREATENS INNOCENT LIVES: Republicans are putting researchers and doctors at risk by publicly naming them as targets of their investigation and creating a database of names. On May 11, Republicans issued a press release publicly naming a physician who has already been the subject of violence by anti-abortion extremists. That physician was never contacted to request information before he received a subpoena.
- THE SELECT PANEL IS DANGEROUS: Republicans are refusing to protect confidentiality, despite known risks and tragedies such as the death of three people at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood women’s health clinic. After publicly and privately promising to safeguard identities, Republicans reneged and confirmed that “we will not assure that [witness’s] name or any of the other names used in the deposition will remain private.”
- THE SELECT PANEL IS AN ABUSE OF POWER: Republicans are abusing Congressional subpoena power. The overwhelming majority of their unilateral subpoenas – thirty of thirty-six– have been sent without any effort to obtain voluntary compliance. We should provide physicians, medical researchers, and others with an opportunity to provide information voluntarily. A subpoena should not be the first contact they have with Congress.
- THE SELECT PANEL EXCLUDES DEMOCRATS: Republicans have consistently refused to work with Democratic panel members. They have refused to discuss or give Democrats copies of their unilateral subpoenas until after they have been served, in violation of House and committee rules. Republicans have denied Democrats access to Panel records, including documents obtained from anti-abortion extremists that Republicans have then used in public hearings and depositions.
- THE SELECT PANEL BULLIES WITNESSES THEY DON’T LIKE: Republicans have berated, demeaned, and questioned witnesses well beyond the authorized scope of this investigation, prompting Democrats to ask the House Clerk to ensure that audio recordings of these closed-door sessions are preserved.
The Select Panel Democratic staff recently issued a memo to Democratic Members giving a status update on the Panel’s work. The memo shows that, nearly eight months and thousands of pages later, there still is no evidence of wrongdoing related to fetal tissue donation and research. Despite this, Republicans continue to chase the inflammatory allegations of anti-abortion extremists at great risk to women, doctors, scientists, and the life-saving research and health care that they provide.