GOP Can Stop Obama’s Contraceptive Rule Now With Congressional Review Act, Law’s Author Says

February 29, 2012 - 4:14 PM

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Former Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.) (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration’s rule mandating that all health insurers offer abortion drugs, artificial birth control, and sterilization at no charge, can be stopped by Congress with a simple up-or-down vote as allowed under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), said the law’s author, former Congressman David McIntosh (R-Ind.).

McIntosh, currently a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Indiana’s new 5th district – he previously served in Congress from 1995 to 2001-- sent a letter on Feb. 10 to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) urging them to overturn the Obamacare regulation.

“The administration’s rule needs to be overturned,” wrote McIntosh.  “Fortunately, Congress does not have to sit on the sidelines and wait for enlightenment to overcome the administration or for the matter to reach the courts. The Congressional Review Act (CRA), which I authored while serving in Congress, provides the authority to overturn the rule.”

“Specifically, the CRA gives Congress sixty session days to introduce Resolutions of Disapproval to nullify a rule after it has been published in final form, which may span as many as 120 or more calendar days,” McIntosh explained in his letter to Boehner.  “The Resolutions of Disapproval under the CRA cannot be amended and enjoy certain expedited procedures in each House. For example, the law allows 30 Senators to discharge any committee action, the resolution is privileged once it is brought to the Senate floor, the eventual debate in the Senate is limited to no more than 5 hours for each side, and only a majority vote is necessary for passage.”

If the resolution passed, President Obama could sign it or veto it. If Obama vetoed the resolution of disapproval, it would take a two-thirds majority in the House (290 votes) and Senate (67 votes) to override his veto.

In his letter to Speaker Boehner, McIntosh wrote, “I urge the House to take up the matter immediately and ask that Senate Republicans begin collecting the required 30 signatures to bring it to the floor. By using the authority available to you under the CRA, you can do the American people a great service and protect the Constitution from yet another egregious assault.”

The Obamacare regulation, finalized on Jan. 20, sparked widespread disapproval, especially from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Orthodox Christian Bishops, leading Protestant ministers such as Rev. Rick Warren, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, and at least 158 members of Congress.

In addition, 2,500 pastors and evangelical leaders signed a letter, released on Feb. 20, opposing the Obamacare regulation because, they argued, it violates religious liberty as provided for under the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The USCCB, headed by Arbp. Timoth Dolan of New York, said back in September 2011 that the Obamacare regulation was an “unprecedented attack on religious liberty,” and the USCCB has called for the complete repeal of the regulation. Bishops nationwide have spoken against the rule. On Feb. 5, Arlington Bp. Paul S. Loverde and Richmond Bp. Francis X. DiLorenzo, for example, had letters read to their parishes in Virginia that said, “[T]he administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.”

“We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law,” the bishops wrote.

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HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama at the White House on Feb. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In an attempt to quell the criticism, President Barack Obama gave a statement on Feb. 10 from the White House in which he said, “Today, we've reached a decision on how to move forward.  Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services -- no matter where they work.  So that core principle remains.  But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -- not the hospital, not the charity -- will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.”

Obama did not announce any change at all to the administrations’ sterilization-contraceptive-abortifacient mandate insofar as it applies to individuals and private-sector business owners who will still be forced by the government to buy and/or provide health insurance plans that cover sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients even if those things directly violate the teachings of their religion and their conscience.

In a statement about Obama’s announcement, McIntosh said, “Because of the public backlash, the administration has proposed a ‘compromise’ that is no better than the original rule. The so-called compromise requires insurance companies to provide the conscience-violating services, but of course, religious groups are thus required to pay for the services anyway if they have insurance plans for their employees.”

And in his letter to Boehner and McConnell, McIntosh also wrote: “The first responsibility of the president is to uphold the Constitution, not find ways to ‘balance’ it against other priorities. The First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty is non-negotiable.”

“On top of the unconscionable treatment of religious organizations in the new rule, the Obama administration’s new mandate requires that services be provided at no cost to beneficiaries,” said McIntosh. “Of course, we all know that ‘free’ health care means rising premiums and taxes on everyone, including those who are supposedly getting them for free. This is just another example of how ObamaCare is a massive drag on our economy and needs to be repealed.”