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.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.