Panel to Have Wasted Over a Million Taxpayer Dollars by End of Year
WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–July 1, 2016. Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky released the following statement on the Republicans’ irregular and secretive funding process, through which the Majority is now seeking nearly half-a-million additional taxpayer dollars for the Select Investigative Panel without any public scrutiny or debate:
“Over the last eight months, more than three quarters of a million dollars has been funneled to the Select Panel without any public accountability,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “At this rate, funding will exceed a million dollars by the end of the year. The Panel has yet to adopt rules or even an investigative plan. But more importantly, and like the three prior House investigations, the Panel has failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing to support Republicans’ inflammatory allegations against researchers and doctors.
“In their desperate attempts to justify the Panel’s existence, Republicans have manufactured misleading evidence, withheld documents and secret “testimony” from Democrats, and abused congressional subpoena authority to demand information that Congress has no right or need to know, including personal financial information, records of rape victims, and the names of law-abiding researchers, students, lab and clinic personnel, and doctors. Their bullying tactics are straight out of the partisan playbook of Senator Joe McCarthy.
“This has not been – nor will it ever be – a fact-based investigation. Instead the Panel is being run as a taxpayer-funded arm of anti-abortion groups, in pursuit of a partisan, anti-science, and anti-health care agenda. Enough is enough. Instead of sanctioning secretive special funding, Speaker Ryan should heed the request of 181 of his Democratic colleagues and disband this dangerous witch hunt.”
The Select Investigative Panel was established by the House Republican leadership in the wake of the deceptively edited video tapes made by anti-abortion extremists. Three House Republican-led Committees and thirteen states have investigated and found no wrongdoing. Eight more states found no credible evidence to even warrant opening an investigation. A Texas grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood and instead indicted anti-abortion activists who produced the videos. Yet Republicans continue to invoke the discredited videos to support their investigation which has been heavily criticized as a “witch hunt”, “grandstanding”, and ”embroiled in a wild goose chase” by numerous editorial boards.
On May 24, 2016, 181 Democrats wrote Speaker Ryan and asked him to disband the Panel. When the Speaker failed to respond to these Members directly, Select Panel Democrats and the Co-Chairs of the Pro Choice Caucus asked the Speaker to schedule a meeting before the July 4th break. Instead of meeting and addressing the Democrats’ concerns in a meaningful way, Speaker Ryan sent a letter on the eve of adjournment that parrots Republican talking points on the investigation.
In an interview with MSNBC earlier this week, Republican Trey Gowdy, Chair of the Select Committee on Benghazi, admitted after his Committee’s more than two year, seven million dollar, taxpayer-funded fishing expedition that the lesson learned is that “Congress does a lousy job of conducting apolitical, nonpartisan investigations and the American people deserve better.” Republicans should heed that lesson here. While there is no evidence of wrongdoing by researchers or doctors, the Panel has been presented with concrete proof of the chilling effect on life-saving research. This so-called investigation is putting lives and livelihoods at risk and should be brought to an immediate end.
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