February 01, 2018
The president laid out a compelling plan for the year in his State of the Union address, but it's important to remember that the key to good policy is good personnel. So, it's no surprise that anti-faith liberals are attacking some of the appointees in this administration, especially in one of the largest and most powerful departments, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has been the nemesis of conservatives, especially under Barack Obama.
HHS under the previous administration promoted blatant anti-faith policies, including forcing faith-based employers like the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their faith in the healthcare plans they provide. HHS also in 2009 had rescinded President Bush's 2008 conscience regulation which merely enforced federal laws prohibiting government discrimination against pro-life healthcare entities. They did nothing to enforce conscience protections for the likes of Cathy DeCarlo, a nurse who was forced to participate in an abortion at a federally funded hospital, or churches in California that have lost their healthcare coverage because the state mandated abortion coverage in violation of federal law preventing such discrimination. The attack on life and faith under the prior administration may have been at its most egregious at HHS in the Obama era.
So when competent pro-life conservatives were appointed to oversee HHS, of course anti-life liberals pitched a fit. As we wrote before, Valerie Huber is an excellent choice for the team over at HHS, due to her experience in social sciences and practical public health programs encouraging risk avoidance in the context of sexual behavior. Last week, the liberal media went after two other solid conservatives working to implement the president's agenda. The left's effort to demonize qualified people over policy differences sinks lower and lower. Roger Severino, for instance heads up the Office of Civil Rights, the office at HHS that oversees helping defend civil rights laws. After HHS announced a new division to protect the conscience rights of healthcare providers who object to being forced to participate in abortion or assisted suicide -- the protections of which are in existing law -- and after HHS issued a new proposed rule to enforce 25 conscience laws on the books, Roger was slammed as a conservative evangelical along with Shannon Royce, who heads up the office of faith-based initiatives.
Of course, the story was updated since it wrongly claimed Roger is an evangelical -- he's Catholic -- the smearing continues. Shannon, my former chief of staff and someone who worked at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and previously for Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), is well qualified to oversee HHS's outreach to the faith-based community. After years of HHS punishing faith-based communities, it's refreshing to see someone like Shannon who respects people of all faiths. The story criticizing Roger and Shannon reported on disgruntled HHS staffers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, complaining that Shannon listens to evangelical voices over others. Maybe they just disagree with her and the president's defense of religious liberty over Obama's animosity towards it?
Others in the crosshairs of this smear campaign have been Charmaine Yoest, who led Americans United for Life, and Scott Lloyd, formerly with the Knights of Columbus. Scott heads up the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which cares for refugees, including minors who have entered the country illegally. Scott's name has been dragged through the mud for not facilitating efforts to provide elective abortion to these young girls. The Hyde amendment governing funds over HHS says abortion is not healthcare and shouldn't be funded by the taxpayers. Why should Scott guarantee that young girls trying to enter the country illegally obtain abortions, when it's not required by law that the federal government facilitate such abortions?
This is a typical tactic of the radical Left, rather than debate policies, they demonize people and distort their records. Call the White House at 202-456-1111, and let them know you support these people!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.