Congressman Gary Palmer, a member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, strongly supports H.J. Res. 43, "Disapproving the action of the District of Columbia Council in approving the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014," and issues the following statement:
"The right to life and the right to free exercise of religion are fundamental to everything I believe. The Declaration of Independence says that we have certain unalienable rights, including the right to life. The First Amendment to the Constitution enshrines the right to free exercise of religion. Whenever these rights are threatened, Congress should take action. H.J. Res. 43 would ensure that these rights are protected, and I am proud to support it."
On January 23, 2015, newly elected D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) signed the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014. Outgoing Mayor Vincent Gray (D) opposed the bill on the grounds that it was "legally problematic" under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The bill adds "reproductive health decisions" to D.C.'s nondiscrimination laws. This could force religious, pro-life and similar organizations to hire people who support abortion, and even force them to provide insurance coverage for abortion.
In 1973, Congress passed the Home Rule Act, which gave the D.C. Government considerable autonomy. However, it also provided for a 30 day congressional review period of all D.C. legislation. The bill was sent to Congress for review on March 6, 2015. The period for this review lasts until April 30, 2014. If enacted into law, H.J. Res. 43 would block implementation of D.C.'s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act. The Oversight Committee recently held a markup of the bill, and Congressman Palmer supported the bill at the markup. The bill passed by a 20-16 margin.