House Republicans today rejected President Barack Obama’s compromise contraception rule and vowed to move forward with legislation aimed at blocking it.
Arguing that Obama should meet with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to resolve the dispute, Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel said House Republicans would not drop their legislative efforts.
“The House of Representatives, led by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will continue to work toward a legislative solution that achieves” protections for religious institutions adequate enough for Republicans, Steel said.
Boehner announced on Wednesday afternoon that the GOP would look to block the rule, which would have required religiously-affiliated hospitals and institutions, along with other businesses, to provide employees with insurance policies that cover contraception.
After days of escalating attacks by conservatives and Republicans, Obama announced today he was changing the rule to ensure that religiously associated institutions are not required to offer — nor pay for — contraception services for employees. Instead, insurance companies would have to offer them at no charge to the employees.
But those changes have not mollified Republicans.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) in a statement said the compromise “simply pretends to shift costs away from religious employers, but it doesn’t fix the problem and is another call for individuals and institutions to compromise on principle.
“The Constitution does not compromise; those rights are inalienable and cannot be bartered away for political expediency and convenience. The administration has simply reaffirmed that Congressional action to permanently reverse this mandate is necessary,” Upton added.
The Conference of Catholic Bishops was cool in its own response.
“Today’s decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction,” Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan said in a statement.
“We hope to work with the administration to guarantee that Americans’ consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations,” he added.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.