Commentary Law and Policy

Meet the HR3 Ten: Daniel Lipinski, Daddy’s Boy

Sarah Jaffe

Meet Daniel Lipinski!  He represents the 3rd Congressional district in Illinois, and has since 2005. He was preceded in that seat by...Bill Lipinski. Yes, that's his dad. Yay, nepotism!

Ten Democrats cosponsored H.R.3, even with language redefining rape; four of those ten also apparently don’t care if pregnant women die. Sarah Jaffe takes a closer look at all ten, find all posted to date here.

Meet Daniel Lipinski!  He represents the 3rd Congressional district in Illinois, and has since 2005. He was preceded in that seat by…Bill Lipinski. Yes, that’s his dad. Yay, nepotism!

It gets better. David Bernstein in Chicago magazine calls the story of Lipinski the younger’s ascension “a classic Chicago move.”

He writes: 

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His father, William Lipinski, had held the Third Congressional District seat since 1983, but after winning the 2004 primary election William withdrew and then urged Democratic Party leaders to slate Daniel—living in Tennessee at the time—virtually assuring his son’s victory against token Republican opposition.

So his dad not only stepped aside to give his son the seat–he literally won the primary FOR him and then gave him the election. Those of you who’ve lived in a one-party machine city know that when Democrats control all the levers of power, the primaries are the real contest, bloody and vicious as any Democrat vs. Republican contest. But incumbents have a huge advantage that perhaps the son of the incumbent, apparently living in Tennessee, might not have had. 

Bernstein notes also that Lipinski was an aide to infamous Gov. Rod Blagojevich, when Blago was a congressman, and notes that Lipinski the elder was a key early backer of Blago’s run for the governorship. No word on what they think of Blago’s run for reality TV. 

Lipinski is such a gem that he not only cosponsors H.R. 3 but also H.R. 358, the “Let Women Die If Saving Them Might Harm a Theoretical Hair on a Fetus’s Underdeveloped Head” act, and of course H.R. 217, the Pence “Defund Healthcare Providers That Actually Help Prevent Abortions Act” and my favorite Orwellian-named “Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2011” (No, that one’s the REAL name.) He was also the only Illinois Democrat to oppose health care reform, though at least he had the sense not to join the GOP attempt to repeal it. 

You can also count Lipinski in with the Congresspeople who live closer to the Canadian border than the Mexican and yet are very concerned with building a border fence on our southern border. 

Lipinski’s top donors are in construction and real estate, and unions. Not really the folks who are insisting that abortion policy be a top priority. The Weglarz company is his top supporter, and their website calls them a “local real estate development and investment business,” not a “making sure women don’t have abortions even if it kills them” business. He’s gotten $41,400 from them as well as $40,500 from Scheck Industries

Recently, Lipinski joined Republicans in voting to roll back mercury emissions limits and other air pollution protections. The Chicagoist notes:

This might not be the most political site in Chicago’s blogosphere, but we like breathing. And given the entrenched problems this region already has, we would hope that Illinois’ Congressional delegation wouldn’t go out of their way to make it worse…sadly, so far this year, it hasn’t worked out that way.

The National Journal calls Lipinski the 200th most conservative member of Congress, more conservative than 55% of Congress on “social” issues (and than 57% on “foreign” issues, which I suppose includes immigration). 

On economic issues (other than health care, which Dean Baker repeatedly reminds us is the actual problem for our long-term economic health as a country), Lipinski is actually all right, supporting bills to invest in American manufacturing and opposing “free trade” with zero worker protections. But he apparently doesn’t see the connection between organizations like Planned Parenthood, which provide health care for low-income working people, and overall economic health. 

But wait–as the labor movement is seeing a resurgence thanks to teachers protesting outside in a Wisconsin winter against Governor Scott Walker’s attempts to bust their unions and cut their funding, what is an economically-progressive Democrat doing supporting a bill for vouchers for private schools? “School choice” is code, of course, for giving more public funds to private, mostly non-union, schools. And Daniel Lipinski is the only House Democrat who cosponsors Speaker John “It’s a legal product, leave me alone” Boehner’s bill

Of course, Lipinski is a Catholic–that’s why he’s so fiercely opposed to abortion, and it’s also probably why he supports school vouchers, which also pump public funds into religious schools. One of only three pieces of legislation he’s introduced this Congress is a resolution “supporting the contributions of Catholic schools.” 

Lipinski’s opposition to abortion also leads him to oppose stem cell research; Don C. Reed wrote

Lipinski also authored what I consider a highly deceptive bill, the “Patients First Act”, H.R. 2807. His legislation was developed with the cooperation of the Family Research Council, arguably the most powerful Religious Right lobbying organization in the country, and was also approved by the George Bush White House.

About as “pro-patient” as a cobra in a hospital bed, the Lipinski effort would have permanently stacked the deck against embryonic stem cell research, “prioritizing” National Institutes of Health grants in favor of adult stem cell research.

Reed notes that in addition to blocking efforts to find new cures for diseases, the “Anti-Science Society” are adding to the national debt and opposing new jobs by cutting off research that might cure chronic diseases. Lipinski is the only Democrat he singles out for being a member of the “A.S.S.”

But Lipinski does cosponsor a resolution that “reaffirms `In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States and supports and encourages the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.”

Lipinski has a Ph.D. in political science from Duke and worked as a professor at Notre Dame and then the University of Tennessee, where he was working when he started his campaign for Congress in Illinois. 

Also, Daniel Lipinski is Defiantly Anti Punk.

It’s been a long time since someone not named Lipinski has held the 3rd district’s seat, so it can be slightly hard to judge whether being ultra-hardline on abortion is truly necessary in an area in which the Democrats pretty much have a lock on the seat. Anne Elizabeth Moore, who lives in Chicago (though not in Lipinski’s district) notes “If there’s a part of Chicagoland where being antichoice might go totally unnoticed in a politician, that’s probably the part.”

Still, in comparison with someone like Dan Boren, it would appear that Lipinski is one of the least indebted to an antichoice base in his district. But once again–once you get a machine politician into a seat, it’s incredibly hard to get them out unless they want to get out. 

So you can ask Daniel Lipinski why it’s so important to take away healthcare from low-income people, stop research and of course, restrict our rights to a safe and legal abortion at his website, or at the address below: 

1717 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5701
Fax: (202) 225-1012

And as usual, you can ask the DCCC why it likes antichoice Dems like Daniel Lipinski better than it likes women.

430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
Main Phone Number: (202) 863-1500

While you’re at it, you can ask them why they’re only asking for $100,000 for “the DCCC’s Women’s Health Rapid Response Fund.”  Antichoice Dems are worth $3.4 million and women’s health is worth $100,000?

Meet the rest of the HR3 Ten here

News Politics

Missouri ‘Witch Hunt Hearings’ Modeled on Anti-Choice Congressional Crusade

Christine Grimaldi

Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) said the Missouri General Assembly's "witch hunt hearings" were "closely modeled" on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans' special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life.

Congressional Republicans are responsible for perpetuating widely discredited and often inflammatory allegations about fetal tissue and abortion care practices for a year and counting. Their actions may have charted the course for at least one Republican-controlled state legislature to advance an anti-choice agenda based on a fabricated market in aborted “baby body parts.”

“They say that a lot in Missouri,” state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) told Rewire in an interview at the Democratic National Convention last month.

Newman is a longtime abortion rights advocate who proposed legislation that would subject firearms purchases to the same types of restrictions, including mandatory waiting periods, as abortion care.

Newman said the Missouri General Assembly’s “witch hunt hearings” were “closely modeled” on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans’ special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life. Both formed last year in response to videos from the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donations. Both released reports last month condemning the reproductive health-care provider even though Missouri’s attorney general, among officials in 13 states to date, and three congressional investigations all previously found no evidence of wrongdoing.

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Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R), the chair of the committee, and his colleagues alleged that the report potentially contradicted the attorney general’s findings. Schaefer’s district includes the University of Missouri, which ended a 26-year relationship with Planned Parenthood as anti-choice state lawmakers ramped up their inquiries in the legislature. Schaefer’s refusal to confront evidence to the contrary aligned with how Newman described his leadership of the committee.

“It was based on what was going on in Congress, but then Kurt Schaefer took it a step further,” Newman said.

As Schaefer waged an ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the Missouri Republican attorney general primary, the once moderate Republican “felt he needed to jump on the extreme [anti-choice] bandwagon,” she said.

Schaefer in April sought to punish the head of Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis affiliate with fines and jail time for protecting patient documents he had subpoenaed. The state senate suspended contempt proceedings against Mary Kogut, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, reaching an agreement before the end of the month, according to news reports.

Newman speculated that Schaefer’s threats thwarted an omnibus abortion bill (HB 1953, SB 644) from proceeding before the end of the 2016 legislative session in May, despite Republican majorities in the Missouri house and senate.

“I think it was part of the compromise that they came up with Planned Parenthood, when they realized their backs [were] against the wall, because she was not, obviously, going to illegally turn over medical records.” Newman said of her Republican colleagues.

Republicans on the select panel in Washington have frequently made similar complaints, and threats, in their pursuit of subpoenas.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the chair of the select panel, in May pledged “to pursue all means necessary” to obtain documents from the tissue procurement company targeted in the CMP videos. In June, she told a conservative crowd at the faith-based Road to Majority conference that she planned to start contempt of Congress proceedings after little cooperation from “middle men” and their suppliers—“big abortion.” By July, Blackburn seemingly walked back that pledge in front of reporters at a press conference where she unveiled the select panel’s interim report.

The investigations share another common denominator: a lack of transparency about how much money they have cost taxpayers.

“The excuse that’s come back from leadership, both [in the] House and the Senate, is that not everybody has turned in their expense reports,” Newman said. Republicans have used “every stalling tactic” to rebuff inquiries from her and reporters in the state, she said.

Congressional Republicans with varying degrees of oversight over the select panel—Blackburn, House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (MI)—all declined to answer Rewire’s funding questions. Rewire confirmed with a high-ranking GOP aide that Republicans budgeted $1.2 million for the investigation through the end of the year.

Blackburn is expected to resume the panel’s activities after Congress returns from recess in early September. Schaeffer and his fellow Republicans on the committee indicated in their report that an investigation could continue in the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January.

Commentary Contraception

Hillary Clinton Played a Critical Role in Making Emergency Contraception More Accessible

Susan Wood

Today, women are able to access emergency contraception, a safe, second-chance option for preventing unintended pregnancy in a timely manner without a prescription. Clinton helped make this happen, and I can tell the story from having watched it unfold.

In the midst of election-year talk and debates about political controversies, we often forget examples of candidates’ past leadership. But we must not overlook the ways in which Hillary Clinton demonstrated her commitment to women’s health before she became the Democratic presidential nominee. In early 2008, I wrote the following article for Rewirewhich has been lightly edited—from my perspective as a former official at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the critical role that Clinton, then a senator, had played in making the emergency contraception method Plan B available over the counter. She demanded that reproductive health benefits and the best available science drive decisions at the FDA, not politics. She challenged the Bush administration and pushed the Democratic-controlled Senate to protect the FDA’s decision making from political interference in order to help women get access to EC.

Since that time, Plan B and other emergency contraception pills have become fully over the counter with no age or ID requirements. Despite all the controversy, women at risk of unintended pregnancy finally can get timely access to another method of contraception if they need it—such as in cases of condom failure or sexual assault. By 2010, according to National Center for Health Statistics data, 11 percent of all sexually experienced women ages 15 to 44 had ever used EC, compared with only 4 percent in 2002. Indeed, nearly one-quarter of all women ages 20 to 24 had used emergency contraception by 2010.

As I stated in 2008, “All those who benefited from this decision should know it may not have happened were it not for Hillary Clinton.”

Now, there are new emergency contraceptive pills (Ella) available by prescription, women have access to insurance coverage of contraception without cost-sharing, and there is progress in making some regular contraceptive pills available over the counter, without prescription. Yet extreme calls for defunding Planned Parenthood, the costs and lack of coverage of over-the-counter EC, and refusals by some pharmacies to stock emergency contraception clearly demonstrate that politicization of science and limits to our access to contraception remain a serious problem.

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Today, women are able to access emergency contraception, a safe, second chance option for preventing unintended pregnancy in a timely manner without a prescription. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) helped make this happen, and I can tell the story from having watched it unfold.

Although stories about reproductive health and politicization of science have made headlines recently, stories of how these problems are solved are less often told. On August 31, 2005 I resigned my position as assistant commissioner for women’s health at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because the agency was not allowed to make its decisions based on the science or in the best interests of the public’s health. While my resignation was widely covered by the media, it would have been a hollow gesture were there not leaders in Congress who stepped in and demanded more accountability from the FDA.

I have been working to improve health care for women and families in the United States for nearly 20 years. In 2000, I became the director of women’s health for the FDA. I was rather quietly doing my job when the debate began in 2003 over whether or not emergency contraception should be provided over the counter (OTC). As a scientist, I knew the facts showed that this medication, which can be used after a rape or other emergency situations, prevents an unwanted pregnancy. It does not cause an abortion, but can help prevent the need for one. But it only works if used within 72 hours, and sooner is even better. Since it is completely safe, and many women find it impossible to get a doctor’s appointment within two to three days, making emergency contraception available to women without a prescription was simply the right thing to do. As an FDA employee, I knew it should have been a routine approval within the agency.

Plan B emergency contraception is just like birth control pills—it is not the “abortion pill,” RU-486, and most people in the United States don’t think access to safe and effective contraception is controversial. Sadly, in Congress and in the White House, there are many people who do oppose birth control. And although this may surprise you, this false “controversy” not only has affected emergency contraception, but also caused the recent dramatic increase in the cost of birth control pills on college campuses, and limited family planning services across the country.  The reality is that having more options for contraception helps each of us make our own decisions in planning our families and preventing unwanted pregnancies. This is something we can all agree on.

Meanwhile, inside the walls of the FDA in 2003 and 2004, the Bush administration continued to throw roadblocks at efforts to approve emergency contraception over the counter. When this struggle became public, I was struck by the leadership that Hillary Clinton displayed. She used the tools of a U.S. senator and fought ardently to preserve the FDA’s independent scientific decision-making authority. Many other senators and congressmen agreed, but she was the one who took the lead, saying she simply wanted the FDA to be able to make decisions based on its public health mission and on the medical evidence.

When it became clear that FDA scientists would continue to be overruled for non-scientific reasons, I resigned in protest in late 2005. I was interviewed by news media for months and traveled around the country hoping that many would stand up and demand that FDA do its job properly. But, although it can help, all the media in the world can’t make Congress or a president do the right thing.

Sen. Clinton made the difference. The FDA suddenly announced it would approve emergency contraception for use without a prescription for women ages 18 and older—one day before FDA officials were to face a determined Sen. Clinton and her colleague Sen. Murray (D-WA) at a Senate hearing in 2006. No one was more surprised than I was. All those who benefited from this decision should know it may not have happened were it not for Hillary Clinton.

Sometimes these success stories get lost in the “horse-race stories” about political campaigns and the exposes of taxpayer-funded bridges to nowhere, and who said what to whom. This story of emergency contraception at the FDA is just one story of many. Sen. Clinton saw a problem that affected people’s lives. She then stood up to the challenge and worked to solve it.

The challenges we face in health care, our economy, global climate change, and issues of war and peace, need to be tackled with experience, skills and the commitment to using the best available science and evidence to make the best possible policy.  This will benefit us all.

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