(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said on Friday that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives should include language in the next continuing resolution (CR) prohibiting the administration from enforcing a regulation that mandates that all health-care plans in the United States must cover, without any fees or co-pay, sterilizations, artificial contraceptives and abortifacients.
"We should prohibit funding for the HHS mandate," Franks told CNSNews.com. "This is something that challenges the very bedrock foundation of religious freedom in this country.”
The regulation would force Catholics, who believe that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are immoral, to act against the teachings of their faith. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have called the regulation "an unprecedented attack on religious liberty" and 43 Catholic institutions--including the archdioceses of Washington, St. Louis and New York, and the University of Notre Dame and Catholic University of America--have sued the administration in federal court arguing that the regulation is a violation of their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
After Franks spoke Friday at a Capitol Hill rally protesting the HHS regulation, CNSNews.com asked him, “Should the House Republicans in the next continuing resolution [CR]--to fund the government beyond Sept. 30--should they include language to prohibit funding for the HHS mandate?”
Franks said: "We should prohibit funding for the HHS mandate. This is something that challenges the very bedrock foundation of religious freedom in this country.”
“Barack Obama has declared a war on religious freedom by forcing people of faith to choose between their faith or kowtowing to some federal fine or federal condemnation,” he said. “And it is a tragedy that beggars the words that I have.”
CNSNews.com then asked Franks, “Do you think Speaker Boehner will move to prohibit funding in the next continuing resolution?”
“I think there’s a good chance that he will,” Franks said. “Speaker Boehner is someone who believes deeply in religious freedom and he has been unequivocal on this mandate, and I believe that there’s a good chance that can happen.”
“I will tell you I will do everything in my power to make it so,” he added.
When asked if he plans to speak with Boehner about the subject, Franks said, “I always do.”
The government is currently funded under a CR that expires on Sept. 30, the last day of fiscal 2012. Congress must pass new funding laws--or another CR--to keep the government funded past September 30. Under the U.S. Constitution, the Executive Branch cannot spend money from the Treasury except under appropriations approved by law, and an appropriations law cannot be passed without the approval of the House.
Under Speaker Boehner, the House of has included langauge in the CR’s to prohibit the administration from implementing regulations. For example, the last CR, passed in December 2011, included language prohibiting EPA from spending any money to require mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems.
Franks spoke on Friday at the “Stand Up For Religious Freedom” rally across from the U.S. Capitol building. The event also featured Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), Live Action President Lila Rose, political activist and former ambassador Alan Keyes, and others, who criticized the HHS mandate as a violation of religious freedom.
The HHS sterilization-contaception-abortifacient mandate is set to go into effect for most insurance plans on Aug. 1--two months before the current fiscal year ends and the current CR expires. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has given religious non-profit organizations--such as Catholic universities--and extra year to comply with the regulation. But private sector Catholic business owners must comply this Aug. 1.