In the wake of last week's shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado, one GOP leader faced questions about whether congressional Republicans will continue their push to defund the organization.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., did not rule in or out a move to strip the group's funding in the must-pass government spending package. He told reporters during a pen-and-pad briefing Monday there will likely be debate on the subject.
On Nov. 27, a gunman killed three people, including a police officer, at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Co. Multiple media reports citing a law enforcement official said the suspect, Robert Dear, made a comment about "no more baby parts." After the shooting, Planned Parenthood leaders said heated rhetoric about undercover videos that purportedly showed the group's employees discussing the sale of fetal tissue spurred violence towards the group. Planned Parenthood has said the videos were edited and misleading.
Asked directly if the shooting makes Republicans less likely to bar funding for the group, McCarthy responded, “Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the president of Planned Parenthood, a month or so ago, come back about some of the funding themselves that they were going to stop?”
McCarthy appeared to be referring to the Oct. 13 announcement that Planned Parenthood would not accept funds to cover the costs of providing fetal tissue for research.
"When I look at Planned Parenthood, you want to get to the bottom of what's going on with the videos and others," McCarthy added. "That's why a select committee was created. You’ve got a bipartisan [committee], so you can get the truth out. Everybody will have the ability to put their ideas in but at the end you’ll be able to get the truth."
The House voted to establish the committee to investigate Planned Parenthood after the videos were released, to the chagrin of Democratic lawmakers. On Nov. 5, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., named Democrats to the committee , but referred to the panel as, "the Republican Select Committee to Attack Women’s Health.”
In the wake of the shooting, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called on Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., to disband the select committee. But on Monday, McCarthy defended the panel, reminding reporters that it is bipartisan and it is "just getting to the information."
McCarthy reiterated his position against federal funds for Planned Parenthood. He said, "My personal opinion: I do not think tax dollars should be spent."
The shooting is also not stopping a Senate effort to defund the organization . GOP leaders later Monday will gauge support for a measure that would strip funds for the organization and repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.
Asked about a congressional response to the shooting, McCarthy said of the perpetrator, "This man is mentally ill." He said he recently met with Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., to discuss Murphy's mental health bill and said the bill has gained momentum with a recent subcommittee hearing. But McCarthy declined to say if it would come to a vote, noting the hearing raised issues that are being worked out.
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