Congress

House Democrats urge Ryan to disband Planned Parenthood panel

Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting suspect Robert Dear, right, appears via video hearing during his first court appearance, where he was told he faces first degree murder charges, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. At left is public defender Dan King.
Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting suspect Robert Dear, right, appears via video hearing during his first court appearance, where he was told he faces first degree murder charges, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. At left is public defender Dan King. AP

House Democrats are calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to disband a congressional panel investigating Planned Parenthood, saying heated rhetoric by lawmakers contributed to the deadly shootings at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado.

Six Democrats wrote a letter to Ryan, R-Wisconsin, saying "In the aftermath of the attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last Friday, we strongly urge you to disband the Select Investigative Panel of the Committee on Energy and Commerce."

"Republican members of Congress have continued to use inflammatory language to describe (Planned Parenthood) and to justify the creation of the select panel" Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois told reporters.

Friday, a man opened fire at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, killing three people and wounding nine others. Authorities arrested Robert Lewis Dear, 57, a former resident of Black Mountain, N.C.

Media outlets reported that Dear told law enforcement officials "no more baby parts" after he was arrested.

Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, said the alleged remarks were similar to language used by some members of a select panel tapped by former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

He formed the panel in response to secretly-recorded videos that allegedly showed Planned Parenthood staffers discussing the sale of fetal tissue.

“So, my humble suggestion as a Congresswoman from Colorado is that we all take it down a notch,” DeGette said. “My humble suggestion is that we disband this Committee which would serve no other purpose than fomenting the already toxic environment that we have out there...”

Earlier in the day, Ryan expressed condolences to the families of the victims in Friday’s shootings and urged Congress to do more to revamp the nation’s mental health system.

“And one common denominator in these tragedies is mental illness,” he told reporters. “That’s why we need to look at fixing our nation’s mental illness health system.”

The six Democrats – Schakowsky, DeGette, Suzan DelBene of Washington, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Jackie Speier of California and Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey - spoke about their letter after the House of Representatives held a moment of silence for the Colorado Springs victims.

"We have moments of silence on the floor of the House, but we will not be silenced," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California. "We must speak out against the violence that has befallen our country." 

William Douglas: 202-383-6026, @williamgdouglas and @victoriahart2

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