U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today that the Senate Democrats' bill to roll back the Religious Freedom Restoration Act would "carve a giant hole out of America's religious freedom."
Alexander said, "Twenty-one years ago the Congress voted to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, an act which reflects the American character as well as any other act that Congress has passed. It created a very high hurdle for government to burden a person's religious belief. That bill passed nearly unanimously with support from many here in the Senate today, many Democrats who are supporting this carve-out for religious freedom."
If Senate Democrats are successful in passing their proposed legislation, "an American who opens a business in this country will know that he or she will forfeit their right to religious freedom," Alexander said. "That is not consistent with the American character. That is not the American way."
Alexander said that the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling "ought to have been a victory for everyone, if it is true in our country that when any American's religious freedom is upheld, all of us benefit. The Supreme Court decision was about individual freedoms. It was not about contraceptive rights. What is really happening is that they are trying to change the subject. They want to talk about health care, but they don't want to talk about Obamacare and what it is doing to the women of this country."
Alexander continued by telling the stories of Emilie and Carol, two Tennesseans whose health plans were cancelled because of Obamacare. After Emilie's health insurance policy through CoverTN was cancelled, she wrote Alexander that her insurance premiums alone would increase by 410 percent and her out-of-pocket expenses, including subsides, would increase by more than $6,000 a year. Carol, a single mother, wrote Alexander that because she earns too much for subsides, she now spends so much on insurance premiums under Obamacare that she can no longer contribute to her son's education.
Alexander continued, "These are the kinds of stories that Senate Democrats don't want to be repeated, so they even go so far as to bring up carving big chunks out of America's character by trampling on religious freedom."
Alexander said Republicans have "proposals to help Americans like Carol, Americans like Emilie. We have offered them on this Senate floor repeatedly since 2010 when the Obamacare law was passed." Alexander then detailed several Republican step-by-step proposals to increase freedom and choice for Americans.
He said, "We trust Americans to make decisions for ourselves. That is the American way. That is what we believe in: religious freedom and health care freedom."