Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), in his role as the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today launched an inquiry into anti-abortion laws that have passed in many Republican-led states since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.
“Republicans’ abortion restrictions are endangering women’s health and imposing a dangerous chilling effect on providers,” Pallone said in a statement. “Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats will be investigating the consequences of these cruel laws to better understand their impact on doctors and patients as we work to restore the right to abortion nationwide.”
Since Democrats are in the House minority, Pallone doesn’t have the same level of congressional authority as he did during his four years chairing the Energy and Commerce Committee. But he and the committee’s Democratic caucus still have the ability to conduct inquiries, send oversight letters, and release reports on their findings.
It’s not clear yet how the inquiry will go about analyzing anti-abortion laws or what its ultimate goals are, beyond the stated purpose of investigating “the consequences of Republican-led restrictions on reproductive health care on doctors and patients.” There’s no timetable yet, either, for when Pallone and his fellow committee Democrats will begin the inquiry.
But when it does begin, the inquiry may give Pallone, and House Democrats, an important bully pulpit on an issue that has proven to be electorally damaging for Republicans. The prospect of stringent abortion restrictions likely scared some voters away from the Republican Party in the 2022 midterms, and is sure to be a top issue once again in 2024.