Rep. Black to ‘Wait and See’ on Voting for Funding of Obamacare Mandate That Violates Religious Beliefs

By Michael James | March 5, 2013 | 4:02 PM EST

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) (AP)

( – Representative Diane Black (R-Tenn.) -- who opposes the Health and Human Services mandate on contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients as a violation of religious liberty under the 1st Amendment -- would not say whether she would vote against the continuing  resolution to fund the federal government, even if it excludes  conscience-protection language to shield individuals from the mandate.

Under the Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation, nearly all health insurance plans must offer coverage without co-pays for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs, a rule that has been denounced by many religious leaders and lawmakers as a violation of religious liberty.

Rep. Black has introduced the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (HCCRA) – legislation separate from the continuing resolution -- to protect against the Obamacare mandate. According to a statement from Black’s office, the HCCRA would grant conscience-protection, a “full exemption for all those whose religious beliefs run counter to the Administration’s HHS mandate.”

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama. (AP)

Regarding the continuing resolution (CR), however, at a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday, asked Rep. Black the following, “Last week at the Conversations with Conservatives briefing, Congressman Steve King said that he would ‘like to see conservatives band together and refuse to pass the CR’ until the conscience-protection language we’ve just been talking about is included. Will you vote against the continuing resolution if it does not include the conscience-protection language?”

Black said, “The continuing resolution is still being discussed. We’ll wait and see what comes out and make a decision at that time.”

The continuing resolution was released on Monday, Mar. 4, and is scheduled for a vote this Thursday in the House of Representatives.  The CR does not include any language on conscience-protection relative to the HHS mandate and it does not include any language prohibiting funding for the mandate.

If the House, with a majority of Republicans, passes the CR, then the House will be voting to fund a regulation that even Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said is a violation of religious liberty under the 1st Amendment.

The CR overall (HR 933) will fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2013, which ends Sept. 30, in the amount of $982 billion.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Black was joined by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Rep. John Flameing, M.D. (R-La.), who are supporters of the HCCRA. Also in attendance were three reported victims of religious persecution, including Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, a resident nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, who was forced to help perform an abortion on a 22-week-old baby despite her Catholic belief that abortion is the killing of a human child and is a “moral evil.” (2271)