Washington, D.C. (Feb. 26, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and its Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) warning that she will be forced to consider alternative means of compliance if the Trump Administration continues to stonewall the Committee’s investigation into the Title X gag rule, which prohibits providers from referring patients for the full range of reproductive health care services.
“When I became Chairwoman of the Committee, I asked Committee staff to seek an update from OMB on its plans to respond to the Committee’s requests. To date, OMB has neither acknowledged nor responded to this request,” the Chairwoman wrote. “I am now formally reiterating the Committee’s requests for documents and information related to this matter. OMB’s ongoing obstruction of this investigation reflects a failure of respect for Congress’ legitimate oversight responsibilities.”
On February 14, 2019, the Committee joined with Senator Patty Murray, the Ranking Member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, as well as Senators Margaret Hassan and Kamala Harris, in writing to Director Mulvaney and then-OIRA Administrator Neomi Rao seeking documents relating to OIRA’s review process for the Title X gag rule. OMB responded on April 3, 2019, declining to provide any of the requested documents.
On April 18, 2019, the Committee wrote again reiterating the request for responsive documents by May 2, 2019. OMB responded on May 23, 2019—three weeks after the extended deadline—expressing a willingness to “accommodate your oversight interests while protecting the Executive Branch’s longstanding interests in maintaining confidentiality in the deliberative process,” but categorically refusing to provide any documents.
Since then, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has finalized the Title X gag rule and has started enforcing provisions of the rule that restrict providers’ ability to inform patients of the full range of reproductive health services available to them. The harmful effects of these restrictions have already begun to materialize. At least half a dozen states and more than a thousand Title X clinics have been forced to stop using Title X funds or to withdraw from the program altogether, threatening access to reproductive health care for as many as 1.6 million women nationwide.
On March 4, 2020, HHS will begin enforcing the rule’s requirement that clinics create physical separation between abortion care and other health care services, imposing additional costs on providers and further threatening the Title X network.
Today, Chairwoman Maloney is demanding that the requested documents be produced by March 4, or she will consider alternative means for compliance.
Click here to read today’s letter.
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