House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) today released the following statements after the White House doubled down on an overreaching mandate that violates employers and individuals' conscience:
"What sets our nation apart is that religious freedom is a fundamental right protected by the First Amendment, not simply a privilege to be given and taken away on a government whim," said Upton. "We do not and cannot begin to compromise on this fundamental right. Today's announcement is not a compromise on policy -- it 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. This underscores that the health care law itself is fundamentally built on replacing individual rights with government requirements. 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."
Pitts said, "This is a fig leaf and a disingenious gimmick. The President needs to take off his green eye shade and read the First Amendment. This outrage is one more reason why the President's healthcare law needs to be repealed. The very idea that the President now has the power to force America's largest Christian denomination to violate long-held church doctrine is antithetical to everything America stands for. This is supposed to be a free country."