Senate Republicans echoed the sentiment of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) after he vowed on the House floor Wednesday to repeal a regulation that requires employers, including religious entities, to provide their employees with coverage for contraceptives.
“If the president does not reverse the department’s attack on religious freedom, then Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold, must,” Boehner said on the House floor.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, flanked by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), spoke out against the regulation.
“What we have see with this administration is the trampling of that First Amendment protection and a systematic dismantling of religious liberty for people of this country,” Thune said.
Thune, the Senate GOP Conference Chair, said he is looking for President Obama and his administration to walk back and deregulate this policy.
“If we put religious institutions and faith-based organizations in the position where they have to comply with government mandates that violate the principles of their faith, it violates our First Amendment to the Constitution and really it’s an affront to what we stand for as Americans,” Ayotte told reporters at the Capitol. “This is not a women’s rights issue, it’s a religious liberty issue.”
The White House has defended its position but there remains a window to perhaps revisit debate the further. White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the administration would take advantage of a one-year delay, which is reported to give employers time to adjust their coverage plans to include contraceptives, to hear the concerns being voiced by religious organizations.
“This has nothing to do with contraception,” Rubio said. “This is about whether the government of the United States should have the power to go in and tell a faith-based organization that they have to pay for something that they teach their members shouldn’t be doing. It’s that simple.”