GOP Can Stop Obama’s Contraceptive Rule Now With Congressional Review Act, Law's Author Says
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 Friday 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.”
Under the CRA, Congress can call up any administrative regulation and hold an up-or-down vote to nullify it.
The Obamacare regulation, finalized on Jan. 20, sparked intense condemnation from various quarters, including 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.
Those opponents made the point that the federal government mandating that people – except in the most narrow of cases, such as church or seminary employees – must pay for health insurance that covers contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs is a violation of religious liberty. It would force millions of Americans to violate their conscience and their faith.
The USCCB, headed by Arbp. Timoth Dolan of New York, said back in September 2011 that the 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.
In an attempt to quell the criticism, President Barack Obama gave a statement on Friday from the White House in which he said that “religious organizations” such as charities and hospitals will not be forced by the federal government to directly pay insurance premiums that cover sterilization, contraception and abortifacients but that their insurance providers must nonetheless provide those services free of charge to women insured by those organizations.
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.”