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Congressman Diane Black

Representing the 6th District of Tennessee

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Trump Administration Repeals Coercive HHS Mandate

October 6, 2017
Press Release
A Win for Religious Liberty

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Trump administration announced that religious ministries, non-profits, businesses and school entities would no longer be forced to choose between violating their moral and religious beliefs or violating the law under the Obamacare contraceptive mandate. In 2011, the Obama administration required employers and insurers to cover contraceptive methods, including abortifacients, under the Affordable Care Act even if they opposed on moral and religious grounds. Organizations choosing not to comply with the mandate face millions of dollars in penalties and fines.

Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) released the following statement:

“Today, President Trump delivered a resounding victory for true-believing Americans across the country, finally closing this appalling chapter on the Obama Administration’s persecution of ordinary Americans who for years have been seeking only the freedom to live in accordance with their faith, free from government interference.

The issue at question has never been whether women should have access to contraception, but rather should the federal government force a sincere religious or moral objector to act in violation of their own beliefs. The answer in our Constitution is no – that is never the role of a free and democratic government. This most basic and essential religious liberty has been vital to our nation’s character since its founding.

It is also now time for the Justice Department to immediately enter a permanent settlement with the Little Sisters of the Poor and many other plaintiffs unfairly threatened with millions of dollars in crippling fines under Obamacare. These courageous women have suffered heavily at the hands of the government, but have never stopped dutifully serving the poor, nor strayed from their convictions.

I also particularly want to praise Vice President Pence for his tireless efforts to defend religious liberty, to secure the rights of the Little Sisters of the Poor and to restore our nation’s fundamental Constitutional principles to their rightful place as the law of the land. I know today’s solution would not have been possible without his leadership and steadfast commitment.”

The new rule leaves the old mandate in place for nearly every employer already subject to it, while providing an exemption on religious and moral grounds. It also admits that the prior rule imposed a substantial burden on employers without a good enough reason, thus violating the law since there are dozens of ways the government could make contraceptives available.

The Little Sisters of the Poor have been fighting the regulation since September 24, 2013. Though the rule announced today will take effect immediately, the Little Sisters still need resolution in their court case.

Background:

On May 4, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order directing HHS and the executive branch to reconsider the mandate.

On January 11, 2016, Congressman Black, Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA-03), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Lankford (R-OK) announced the submission of a bipartisan amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court and signed by 207 members of Congress in support of religious nonprofits and charities challenging Obamacare’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, including Little Sisters of the Poor.

Click HERE for Rep. Black’s statement on the Draft HHS Rule leaked at the end of May 2017.

Click HERE to watch Rep. Black speak on the House floor in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

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Congressman Diane Black represents Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. A nurse for more than 40 years, she serves as Chairman of the House Budget Committee and a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

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