The House just approved another panel—the fifth Congressional probe in as many months—to investigate Planned Parenthood in response to the release of videos showing employees discussing the organization's participation in fetal tissue donation programs.
And the Republicans behind the push have stopped pretending it's about finding criminal wrongdoing. (Multiple investigations launched in response to the videos have concluded that Planned Parenthood is in compliance with all federal and state laws, in operations related to fetal tissue donation or otherwise.)
"Even if these abortion providers somehow manage to comply with all federal laws while dismembering children, it's clear we need to learn more about their barbaric tactics," Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina, told The Associated Press.
But as Congress pushes ahead with another investigation—an agenda that directly contradicts the public's priorities—they are also punting on major pieces of policy. Earlier this month, both chambers allowed funding to expire for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides medical coverage to first-responders who worked to find survivors, clear debris, and recover the dead after the 2001 World Trade Center attack. Both the House and Senate failed to move a measure to renew the funding out of committee, and so it sunset on Oct. 1.
While the deadlock in Congress doesn't mean the program will cease operations, it is still significant: with only enough money to keep going through the next year, the people who rely on it are left to wonder if they will receive the healthcare they need come next fall.
“Stress is not even the word. It’s beyond stress,” Nick Poliseno, a first-responder who receives treatment for his respiratory disease through Zadroga, told the New York Daily News earlier this month. “My life depends on this.”