Congressman Nadler Leads Democratic Member Walk-Out from Republican Select Panel Attacking Women's Health

Sep 21, 2016 Issues: Civil Liberties, Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. --Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, led the six Democratic Members of the Republican Select Panel Attacking Women's Health in a walk-out during an official meeting after the motion to adjourn was voted down along partisan lines.  Questioning the authority of Chairman Blackburn to bring a resolution of criminal contempt against StemExpress and its CEO, Cate Dyer, Democratic Members objected to Republican's "abusive, dangerous, and unlawful actions", and rejected the Chair's authority to move forward with an investigation designed to harass, intimidate, and drive companies away from fetal tissue research.

Below is the full statement, as prepared, Congressman Nadler delivered during the Select Panel markup:

"I wish I could say I am shocked to find myself here today voting on a report on contempt against StemExpress, but today’s meeting is just another step in this long corrupt process the Republicans are calling an investigation. Don’t be fooled. No matter how the Panel votes today, this effort is a clear violation of House rules. The Chair has no authority to bring up this resolution and no path to bring it before the full House or the Speaker. But that’s not what this vote is all about.

"This entire shameful effort has been based on a lie about some heavily edited videos released over a year ago and already dismissed as patently false by investigations in three House Committees and dozens of states. We have heard the same lies discredited in those videos repeated in this hearing room and in the press by the Chair and the Republicans. And now today’s meeting is, once again, entirely built on lies.

"The company against whom the Chair is attempting to bring criminal contempt charges has never refused to participate in this so-called investigation no matter how burdensome or arbitrary the Republicans’ requests have been. They have made a good faith effort to comply with the demands of the Republicans on this panel even as those demands changed from day to day. The company has made reasonable, and clearly necessary, requests for some consideration to be made for the safety and security of their employees and the clinics, scientists, and other companies with whom it works. The Republicans refused to acknowledge those requests. StemExpress has offered up witnesses and dates those witnesses would be available to provide explanations and testimony about precisely how their business operates. The Republicans ignored those offers. Most importantly, StemExpress has produced reams of documents – 1700 pages – in response to each of the Panel’s requests. The Republicans always demanded more documents, more names, more information. Somehow it has never been enough.

"This panel has never been about pursuing the truth. Rather, this witch hunt and smear campaign is designed to end fetal tissue research. Without the Chair ever having to produce legislation or the Republicans ever having to take a vote on the House floor, they are trying to stop life-saving research. This corrupt process has always been about cutting off fetal tissue donation without the Chair ever having to issue a report or release any factual findings of illegal activity by Stem Express, Planned Parenthood or any of the multiple other organizations and individuals the Chair and the Republicans have shamefully named in the press despite repeated requests to protect their safety. This is not a legitimate attempt to gather relevant information.

"Instead, this handful of Republicans will grossly abuse the power of Congress to intimidate, harass, and ultimately push private businesses out of perfectly legal business activities or even into bankruptcy. Without a single vote, they will cut off access to fetal tissue and thereby end the vital research on which it depends at a time when public health officials continue to struggle against the Zika virus and scientists are getting closer to unlocking the mysteries of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It is shameful and underhanded. It is dishonest and dishonorable. It must stop. 

"This corrupt process and clear lack of regard for the rules of the House – not  to mention regard for the personal safety of providers, students, scientists, patients, and employees – has brought us here. I urge my colleagues to stop this witch hunt. Follow the rules of the House. Do your jobs."