Republicans have kept up their criticism of President Barack Obama's contraception mandate despite the administration's efforts to compromise, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., calling for a Senate vote on repealing the mandate.
In an appearance on CBS' 'Face the Nation' on Sunday, McConnell indicated that he would push for a vote on a bill that exempts employers from providing insurance coverage for contraceptives if they have religious or moral objections.
"We'll be voting on that in the Senate, and you can anticipate that would happen as soon as possible," McConnell said, although he acknowledged that the bill would be likely vetoed by Obama.
McConnell's remarks come even though Obama announced Friday that religiously affiliated institutions would not be required to directly provide women with access to contraceptive services under the health care reform law.
Obama said that religious institutions like hospitals and universities would be exempt from the requirement and the insurance company would instead be required to offer the woman contraceptive care.
"The fact that the White House thinks this is about contraception is the whole problem," McConnell said. "This is about freedom of religion. It's right there in the First Amendment. You can't miss it."
He added, "Right there in the very First Amendment to our Constitution. And the government doesn't get to decide for religious people what their religious beliefs are."
McConnell said that the contraception issue underscores just one of the constitutional problems with the broader health care reform law, claiming that it is "riddled with constitutional problems."
"This is what happens when the government tries to take over health care and tries to interfere with your religious beliefs," McConnell said.
"So this issue will not go away until the administration simply backs down," he added. "They don't have the authority under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to tell someone in this country or some organization in this country what their religious beliefs are. Therein lies problem."
Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew defended the compromise outlined by Obama, saying it strikes the "right balance" between providing birth control and protecting religious liberty.
Lew, who made a series of appearances on the Sunday talk shows, noted that a variety of groups have expressed support for the compromise and acknowledged that the White House knew it would not get the universal support of the nation's Catholic bishops or all Catholics.
by RTT Staff Writer
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