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Dems, GOP set stage for major Planned Parenthood showdown

The Benghazi "scandal" didn't work out for Republicans. Neither did the IRS "scandal." Now, the stage is set for a new, even more divisive witch hunt.
Women hold up signs during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Women hold up signs during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC.
The IRS "scandal" didn't turn out the way Republicans hoped. Neither did the Solyndra "scandal." Or the Benghazi "scandal." GOP lawmakers invested incredible amounts of energy -- and tens of millions of our dollars -- into looking for evidence of wrongdoing, but in each instance, there was no wrongdoing to find. The "controversy" didn't exist outside the overactive imaginations of far-right partisans.
But in the immortal words of Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), if Republicans are being accused of launching witch hunts, "that must mean there is a witch somewhere.” If previous investigations turned up nothing, that must mean it's time for a new investigation to turn up nothing.
Two weeks ago, House GOP leaders appointed members to a new anti-Planned Parenthood committee, and yesterday, House Democratic leaders did the same.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has picked six strong abortion rights supporters for the GOP-led panel on Planned Parenthood, setting up a showdown over the already-controversial probe. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a leading member of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, was picked as the top Democrat on the panel.

They'll join the eight House Republicans -- four men, four women -- who've already been named to the committee. The new "Select Investigative Panel" will be chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
Yesterday's announcement was not a foregone conclusion -- House Dems considered boycotting this new committee, recognizing it as a partisan sham, but as was the case with the Republicans' Benghazi panel, Democrats ultimately decided it's worth knowing what the GOP is up to and occasionally trying to set the record straight.
As for why the committee exists, no one involved has offered a coherent explanation. As was the case with Benghazi, a variety of congressional committees have already examined the allegations against Planned Parenthood, and no evidence of wrongdoing has emerged. This new panel was created to help House GOP officials tell their base that they're "doing something" about an issue far-right activists take seriously.
For their part, House Republicans "insist their new committee to investigate Planned Parenthood won’t be political.”
Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this report.