Democrats Win Pyrrhic Victory While Squashing Religious Freedom

In an Action Alert this week, Christian Coalition of America asked supporters to call both of their United States Senators to urge them to vote for an amendment by Senator Roy Blunt, Republican from Missouri, to stop the Obama administration from discriminating against Christians and other people of faith.

Unfortunately, through nefarious shenanigans, the Democrats would not even allow Senators to vote up or down on the Blunt Amendment.  Harry Reid, whose party controls the United States Senate - undoubtedly for less than a year more with disastrous votes for the Democrats such as Thursday’s vote - had to play cute and have a vote to “Table the Blunt Amendment” which would confuse a lot of Americans; and that was the Democrats’ intention. The vote was not about contraception as the pro-abortion liberals maintain, but maintaining religious freedom for all Americans which the Blunt Amendment would have done.

Regardless of the defeat of the Blunt Amendment by 48-51 on Thursday, the Christian Coalition of America will be scoring this vote in the 2012 Congressional Scorecard.  The American people will not be congratulating the Democrats for their pyrrhic victory nor for their their successful squashing of religious freedom in America when it comes time to vote this November.

One of the greatest champions of religious freedom in United States Senate history, Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma, said this about the Senate Democrats defeating, on a mostly party-line vote, the Blunt Amendment: “I am disappointed that the Senate today failed to protect religious freedoms.  The language that Senator Blunt has offered to protect those freedoms is similar to language that has been offered in the past by Senators Moynihan, Kennedy, and Schumer.  Yet today, this issue has been turned into a partisan one.  The fact is, this amendment would have preserved religious freedom and maintained the pre-Obamacare status quo.  I will continue to work with my colleagues to protect first amendment rights as it relates to this and ultimately repeal and replace Obamacare."

Below Senator Inhofe’s press release is the list of the 99 senators who voted on the Blunt Amendment listed alphabetically by state.  Senator Mark Kirk, R-IL, who suffered a stroke recently, did not vote.  The rest of the press release from Senator Inhofe’s office is directly below:

 

INHOFE BACKS BLUNT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AMENDMENT

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a leading senate conservative, today voted in favor of the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” amendment offered by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).  The amendment and Blunt’s stand alone bill (S.1467) are designed to restore first amendment rights to religious organizations as it relates to the Obamacare regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would require employers to provide contraceptive services to its employees.  The Senate ultimately voted to table the amendment with today’s vote. 

“I am disappointed that the Senate today failed to protect religious freedoms,” said Inhofe.  “The language that Senator Blunt has offered to protect those freedoms is similar to language that has been offered in the past by Senators Moynihan, Kennedy, and Schumer.  Yet today, this issue has been turned into a partisan one.  The fact is, this amendment would have preserved religious freedom and maintained the pre-Obamacare status quo.  I will continue to work with my colleagues to protect first amendment rights as it relates to this and ultimately repeal and replace Obamacare.”

About the Blunt Amendment

The amendment does not require insurers or employers to accommodate moral or religious objections.  It simply leaves sponsors, purchasers and insurers free to negotiate a health plan without governmental officials using Obamacare regulations to force one result.  In this respect it simply leaves federal law where it was before enactment of Obamacare.  It seeks to protect health care providers and insurers, including purchasers such as small businesses, from being forced to violate their ethical principles to cover or fund products and services under the new health overhaul bill.  It also seeks to protect health care stakeholders against discrimination, penalty, or exclusion from the health care market, as defined in the health care overhaul, for exercising their rights of conscience, and includes protection for faith-based health plans.

How does the amendment affect the conscience rights of pharmacists or other health providers?

It states that Obamacare’s new requirements for ensuring ready “access” to health benefits will not be used to force such providers to violate their consciences.  It does not affect any requirements created by private entities such as employers, or by other state or federal laws.

Could this amendment be misused by purchasers or insurers to “opt out” of expensive procedures to save money, by claiming a moral objection?

No.  It explicitly allows HHS to ensure that all plans maintain an actuarial value equivalent to that of a plan that includes all mandated benefits.

Could the amendment be misused to deny coverage for life-saving health care to patients who are elderly or disabled, by claiming a moral or religious conviction?

No.  Obamacare’s existing language against such discriminatory “quality of life” medical decisions is explicitly applied to this new provision.

Would the amendment reduce people’s access to much-needed health care?

No.  It only preserves accommodations of conscience that were routinely exercised under federal law before Obamacare.  The real danger is that, without this bill, churches and others that now provide quality health coverage for their employees may be forced by the federal government to choose between providing coverage, and obeying their own deeply held convictions of conscience.  Many may feel forced to stop providing coverage, thus reducing access to health care.

Grouped by Home State

Alabama: 

Sessions (R-AL), Nay

Shelby (R-AL), Nay

Alaska: 

Begich (D-AK), Yea

Murkowski (R-AK), Nay

Arizona: 

Kyl (R-AZ), Nay

McCain (R-AZ), Nay

Arkansas: 

Boozman (R-AR), Nay

Pryor (D-AR), Yea

California: 

Boxer (D-CA), Yea

Feinstein (D-CA), Yea

Colorado: 

Bennet (D-CO), Yea

Udall (D-CO), Yea

Connecticut: 

Blumenthal (D-CT), Yea

Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea

Delaware: 

Carper (D-DE), Yea

Coons (D-DE), Yea

Florida:

Nelson (D-FL), Yea

Rubio (R-FL), Nay

Georgia:

Chambliss (R-GA), Nay

Isakson (R-GA), Nay

Hawaii:

Akaka (D-HI), Yea

Inouye (D-HI), Yea

Idaho:

Crapo (R-ID), Nay

Risch (R-ID), Nay

Illinois:

Durbin (D-IL), Yea

Kirk (R-IL), Not Voting

Indiana:

Coats (R-IN), Nay

Lugar (R-IN), Nay

Iowa:

Grassley (R-IA), Nay

Harkin (D-IA), Yea

Kansas:

Moran (R-KS), Nay

Roberts (R-KS), Nay

Kentucky:

McConnell (R-KY), Nay

Paul (R-KY), Nay

Louisiana:

Landrieu (D-LA), Yea

Vitter (R-LA), Nay

Maine:

Collins (R-ME), Nay

Snowe (R-ME), Yea

Maryland:

Cardin (D-MD), Yea

Mikulski (D-MD), Yea

Massachusetts:

Brown (R-MA), Nay

Kerry (D-MA), Yea

Michigan:

Levin (D-MI), Yea

Stabenow (D-MI), Yea

Minnesota:

Franken (D-MN), Yea

Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea

Mississippi:

Cochran (R-MS), Nay

Wicker (R-MS), Nay

Missouri:

Blunt (R-MO), Nay

McCaskill (D-MO), Yea

Montana:

Baucus (D-MT), Yea

Tester (D-MT), Yea

Nebraska:

Johanns (R-NE), Nay

Nelson (D-NE), Nay

Nevada:

Heller (R-NV), Nay

Reid (D-NV), Yea

New Hampshire:

Ayotte (R-NH), Nay

Shaheen (D-NH), Yea

New Jersey:

Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea

Menendez (D-NJ), Yea

New Mexico:

Bingaman (D-NM), Yea

Udall (D-NM), Yea

New York:

Gillibrand (D-NY), Yea

Schumer (D-NY), Yea

North Carolina:

Burr (R-NC), Nay

Hagan (D-NC), Yea

North Dakota:

Conrad (D-ND), Yea

Hoeven (R-ND), Nay

Ohio:

Brown (D-OH), Yea

Portman (R-OH), Nay

Oklahoma:

Coburn (R-OK), Nay

Inhofe (R-OK), Nay

Oregon:

Merkley (D-OR), Yea

Wyden (D-OR), Yea

Pennsylvania:

Casey (D-PA), Nay

Toomey (R-PA), Nay

Rhode Island:

Reed (D-RI), Yea

Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea

South Carolina:

DeMint (R-SC), Nay

Graham (R-SC), Nay

South Dakota:

Johnson (D-SD), Yea

Thune (R-SD), Nay

Tennessee:

Alexander (R-TN), Nay

Corker (R-TN), Nay

Texas:

Cornyn (R-TX), Nay

Hutchison (R-TX), Nay

Utah:

Hatch (R-UT), Nay

Lee (R-UT), Nay

Vermont:

Leahy (D-VT), Yea

Sanders (I-VT), Yea

Virginia:

Warner (D-VA), Yea

Webb (D-VA), Yea

Washington:

Cantwell (D-WA), Yea

Murray (D-WA), Yea

West Virginia:

Manchin (D-WV), Nay

Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea

Wisconsin:

Johnson (R-WI), Nay

Kohl (D-WI), Yea

Wyoming:

Barrasso (R-WY), Nay

Enzi (R-WY), Nay