Rep. Steve King: Conservatives Should Refuse to Pass CR Unless it Protects Conscience Rights of Americans Against Obamacare

Matt Cover | February 28, 2013 | 7:15am EST
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Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) says the upcoming continuing resolution should block the implementation of the Obama administration’s contraception-sterilization-abortifacient mandate.( Starr)

( - Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said Wednesday that conservatives in Congress should "band together" in refusing to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government unless it includes language protecting Americans from being forced by the federal government to act against their consciences.

“This is a principle--this is a constitutional principle--that’s been handed to us from our Founding Fathers, and it’s not something that I think we should be negotiating on," said Rep. King. "I would like to see the conscience protection language go into that CR, and I’d like to see conservatives band together and refuse to pass the CR until such time as we get that language in there.”

Under the Obamacare law, the administration has issued a regulation requiring health-care plans to provide cost-free coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

The Catholic bishops of the United States have unanimously declared this regulation an "unjust and illegal mandate" that violates the "personal civil rights" of Catholics. Around the country, dozens of Catholic dioceses, schools and business owners, and schools and business owners of other Christian denominations, have sued the administration arguing that the regulation violates their First Amendment-guaranteed right to the free exercise of religion.

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Under the Constitution, no money can be spent from the U.S. Treasury unless it is appropriated by law by Congress. That means all spending must be approved by the House of Representatives. Currently, federal spending is governed by a continuing resolution enacted last year that will expire on March 27. Government funding after March 27 must be approved by a new continuing resolution or other appropriations passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. asked a panel of conservative House members on Tuesday whether the CR should include language the denies funding for implementation of the regulation.

Rep. King said there was a difference between compromising over dollars spent and compromising over principles.

"We have over the last two-and-a-half years or so in this Congress fought some intense battles, standing on things that appeared to be principles from the beginning but they ultimately were standing on a dollar figure rather than a principle," he said. "Dollar figures can always be compromised--it can be one dollar more or one dollar less, one billion more or one billion less."

"I think that we can win a showdown with that because the American people are with us to the tune of 70 to 80 percent of them and the president would be in a position where he'd have to argue that he wanted to impose the federal government upon and try to force people to violate their conscience," said King.

"I think of Father Jonathan Morris, who said one morning on Fox TV that you cannot be forced to violate your conscience even unto death," said Rep. King. "And these rights, by they way, are not just the rights of religious institutions or employers, these are individual rights that go across all of us, regardless of whether we are clergy, or whatever religious institution we might be, or whether we are atheists or agnostics. We cannot be forced to violate our conscience.

"And I think this is a good place to stand," said King.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) expressed a similar view.

“If we can’t stand up with the likes of the Catholic bishops or Hobby Lobby, then shame on us,” Meadows said.

“This wasn’t supposed to be a part of the Affordable Care Act--now all of a sudden we’re finding out that it is, so if we put that [funding ban] into the CR, I would be in favor of that,” Meadows said.

Hobby Lobby is a chain of retail stores owned by an Evangelical Christian family. It is one of the plaintiffs suing the Obama administration arguing that the sterilization-contraception-abortifacient regulation violates it First Amendment rights. Hobby Lobby specifically objects to being forced to provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices.

Some federal courts hearing lawsuits on the regulation have issued injunctions, barring the government from enforcing it while the court considers the issue on it merits. Other courts have declined to issue injunctions and have let the regulation move forward.

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