Thanks to a weary John Boehner, the government won't shut down over Planned Parenthood. But, he told Face The Nation on Sunday morning, the House will assemble a special committee to investigate the nationwide clinic in response to the conservative outrage over a series of exploitative videos. "The Senate is expected to pass a continuing resolution next week," Boehner said. "We'll also take up a select committee to investigate these horrific videos that we've seen from abortion clinics that we've seen in several states." (The videos he spoke of, filmed and doctored by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, accuse Planned Parenthood of illegally selling fetal organs.)
Leading up to Boehner's resignation Friday, Republicans in Congress grappled with how to deal with Planned Parenthood funding. Members of the Freedom Caucus, for instance, were set on defunding the organization by any means — including the possibility of another shutdown of the federal government. It was precisely the disagreement over funding that might have pushed Boehner over the edge, as some conservatives were threatening to oust him from his leadership position if the resolution passed without eliminating Planned Parenthood. But Boehner held his post. His official resignation was a clear message to his detractors that ignoring the responsibilities of the government via shutdown is reckless and crass.
"We have got groups here in town, members of the House and Senate here in town, who whip people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things that they know, they know, are never going to happen," Boehner said. Acknowledging that his colleagues had been unrealistic, Boehner, who has been in Congress for 25 years, described them as false prophets. "The Bible says, beware of false prophets," he said. "And there are people out there spreading noise about how much can get done."
As for the committee to investigate Planned Parenthood, the non-profit, along with House Democrats, immediately voiced their opposition. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told The Washington Post that House Republicans already have three committees in place with the power to target Planned Parenthood with "one-sided, biased attacks":
House Republicans either have no confidence in their sitting chairmen, or they are willing to waste millions of taxpayer dollars just to placate extremists within their own party.
Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the new initiative a "five-ring circus." "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," she said.
Regardless of how excessive this new inspection could be, it sure beats a shutdown. If Boehner can inhibit another catastrophe, more power to him. After all, it won't look so good to the rest of the world when the U.S. government is held hostage for a second time by the GOP "dirty barn" — his words, not mine.