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Rep. Faso Clarifies Quotes On Planned Parenthood

Rep. John Faso speaking with WAMC's Alan Chartock.
Rep. John Faso speaking with WAMC's Alan Chartock.

Updated: 6:38 p.m. 1/27/2017

Hudson Valley Congressman John Faso, a Republican from New York’s 19th Congressional district, appeared to contradict recent statements he made on WAMC about his stance on the future of Planned Parenthood funding in a secret recording reported on by the Washington Post on Friday. But in an interview with WAMC later in the evening, Faso said he does not favor defunding Planned Parenthood and prefers the "status quo" when it comes to the organization that provides reproductive health care services.

Latest update:

The first-term Congressman had been attending a closed-door meeting with Republican leadership in Philadelphia. According to the paper, Faso said, “If you want to do it somewhere else, I have no problem, but I think we are creating a political minefield for ourselves — House and Senate.”

In an interview with WAMC Friday evening, Rep. Faso said the comment "If you want to do it somewhere else, I have no problem..." was legislative shorthand. Faso said that he stood by his comments in the meeting that Planned Parenthood defunding should not be part of any bills tied to the replacement of the Affordable Care Act.
Faso said he was the last to speak in a meeting that ended hastily, with lawmakers due at a luncheon with the president and vice president.

Faso, speaking by phone, noted that the Hyde amendment already bans federal funds from being used for abortion procedures. Faso, who has described himself as pro-life for many years, including when he ran for governor in 2006, said if a separate up-or-down vote on Planned Parenthood funding came up in the House, he would vote for the status quo, effectively keeping the organization funded.

"This is not the vehicle to bring this up," he said. "The point is that it should not be in a health insurance bill."

On a WAMC Congressional Corner interview with Dr. Alan Chartock recorded January 17, Faso likened targeting Planned Parenthood to the IRS scrutinizing conservative groups during the Obama administration.

“I don’t think we should be using federal law, particularly in this health insurance reform effort, to deal in a punitive way with an organization which some people may not like politically. So I don’t support this effort to defund an organization which is providing routine health care services to people, and which is doing so under auspices of state licensure, and within the regulation of the state law that’s appropriate,” Faso said on WAMC.

He added, “I have always been a limited government person and I just am uncomfortable with the notion that we’re going to single out groups that some may not like. And look, most of the people that were the pro-choice advocates weren’t supporting me in the election. But that’s — regardless, that doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is the principle, the principle that power of government shouldn’t be turned against someone just for political purposes. That to me is what’s wrong about this initiative.”

Here’s the full Faso quote as reported by the Washington Post:

“We are just walking into a gigantic political trap if we go down this path of sticking Planned Parenthood in the health insurance bill,” he said. “If you want to do it somewhere else, I have no problem, but I think we are creating a political minefield for ourselves — House and Senate.”

Faso warned that by defunding Planned Parenthood in the reconciliation bill, “we are arming our enemy in this debate.”

“To me, us taking retribution on Planned Parenthood is kind of morally akin to what Lois Lerner and Obama and the IRS did against tea party groups,” he said, a reference to accusations that the Internal Revenue Service improperly targeted conservative political groups for audits.

Faso continued: “Health insurance is going to be tough enough for us to deal with without having millions of people on social media come to Planned Parenthood’s defense and sending hundreds of thousands of new donors to the Democratic Senate and Democratic congressional campaign committees. So I would just urge us to rethink this.”

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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