Life in DC can be tough, especially when you are stuck playing second fiddle to Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Fellow Tennessee Republican Rep. Diane Black found that out last week as the new 113th Congress kicked off and she raced to introduce a pro-life bill that would defund Planned Parenthood. Unfortunately for Black, she learned her “Jan Brady lesson” the hard way as Blackburn had already introduced an identical bill a day earlier.
As previously covered, on the first day of the new Congress, Blackburn re-introduced former Indiana Rep. Mike Pence’s bill from the last Congress, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would defund Planned Parenthood and other on demand abortion providers but included small technical changes. Suspicion quickly arose on Capitol Hill when Black also re-introduced Pence’s bill a day later with Blackburn’s technical changes. Essentially, both bills alter Pence's language by taking away any prefix or qualifying language as it relates to exceptions dealing with rape, incest and life of the mother. Anyone who follows pro-life politics knows that there is often great dispute, controversy and competition amongst fellow pro-life groups and politicians, even when they are striving to ultimately achieve the same goals. Apparently the spirit of one-upmanship is alive and well in every social circle in town. By now, shouldn't everybody know you don't pirate content from Marsha Blackburn?
Rumors of Black copying Blackburn aside, it appears that Blackburn will come out on top as both bills are being referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee in which Blackburn is the new Vice Chair for the full committee. It’s hard to imagine any scenario in which the full committee’s Chairman, Fred Upton, would choose to have a hearing on Black’s bill over his handpicked Vice Chair. Regardless of the inside baseball on Capitol Hill, it will be interesting to see how Planned Parenthood responds to Blackburn’s legislation. Especially in light of Blackburn’s previous call last Congress for Speaker Boehner to give the go-ahead for a “full-scale" investigation into Planned Parenthood. In her letter from last year, she stated:
If Planned Parenthood is defrauding the Treasury to meet its abortion quota, then the American people deserve answers in an open and transparent series of congressional hearings. Congress needs to take leadership now. House Republicans shouldn’t settle for inaction in the face of injustice.
Given the facts that 45% of their revenue is provided by the federal government, as detailed in their newly released 2011-2012 Annual Report, and that 2012 was a record year for abortions by Planned Parenthood, it would appear Blackburn's proposal for an investigation should be reevaluated.