On ObamaCare, a Life and Debt Struggle
If you tuned into C-SPAN this week and mistook it for the Soap Opera Network, you're not alone. This morning, the ObamaCare-budget drama took another twist, as House conservatives accurately diagnosed one of the major problems facing America: ObamaCare dollars in the federal funding stream.
With the help of two Democrats (Reps. Mike McIntyre and Jim Matheson), 230 members kept their promise to play hardball on a health care policy that could be the downfall of American society. After an hour of debate, representatives moved to pass a $986.3 billion short-term budget that keeps the lights on in Washington and fully funds the government through December 15. What it won't do is devote a single cent to ObamaCare -- ever.
Under Rep. Steve Scalise's (R-La.) amendment, Congress would choke off the health care law before it can inflict more damage than it already has. Almost every day, workers across the country are waking up to the news that their employers (like Trader Joe's, Walgreen's, and Home Depot) are either dropping their health care coverage or dumping them onto the government's exchange. Together this mass exodus spells disaster for the health care industry, which is slowly being commandeered by the federal government. We applaud the House members who voted to defund ObamaCare. For now, the question isn't whether the House will fight, but how far that fight will go.
Senate Republicans like Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will try to block the procedural motions on the House's CR in the Senate, but it will take a united GOP front to keep Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from striking the House's bill and replacing it with a resolution that fully funds ObamaCare. In the meantime, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is just one of the Democrats who's banking on the GOP's track record. "At the end of the day, they'll blink," he told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." Like others who watched the "cut, cap, and balance" debate unfold, he thinks the conservatives' courage is short-lived.
While the GOP regroups for the Senate vote next week, Schumer insisted the President's party wouldn't budge. "We will not... don't get it into your heads that we will. We won't. Don't make it part of your strategy that we'll cave. We're unified. We're together. You're not." Sen. Reid went a step further. "In case there is any shred of doubt in the minds of our House counterparts, I want to be absolutely crystal clear," he threatened. "Any bill that defunds ObamaCare is dead." Liberals may have the Senate numbers to sink the bill, but they're still on the wrong side of public opinion. And conservatives understand that if Democrats are left defending a policy that no one likes, it can only boost the GOP's prospects.
While members sort out the legislative chaos, it looks like the U.S. Supreme Court will be taking its second crack at ObamaCare -- this time on the contraception-abortion mandate. With the circuit courts issuing conflicting opinions on conscience, the Justice Department is asking the Court to break the tie. The case that seems destined for America's highest bench is a lawsuit from Conestoga Wood Specialists, a Pennsylvania company owned by Mennonites who "object as a matter of conscience to facilitating certain contraceptives that they believe can destroy human life."
Ultimately, Alliance Defending Freedom's Matt Bowman points out, "The question is whether the government can pick and choose what faith is, who the faithful are, and when and where they can exercise their faith." Let's hope the Court answers that question the same way the Founders did -- with a resounding no!
Labrador Hounds House on Marriage
Speaking of treating people's views with tolerance, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) has a new bill that aims to do exactly that. While the Left is busy talking about the "injustices" of natural marriage, very few reporters are telling the stories of Christians being hauled into court, before human rights commissions, and even questioned by their own employers for subscribing to a view on marriage that the majority of Americans share! With a country fiercely divided on marriage law, wedding vendors from Washington State to New Jersey are trapped in the middle, wondering why their rights are suddenly less important than homosexuals'.
Under Labrador's "Marriage and Religious Freedom Act," the federal government would be bound to respect the marriage views of everyone from businessmen to ordinary citizens. Specifically, the bill ensures that Americans' First Amendment rights are honored by federal agencies like the IRS, which has been guilty of singling out social conservatives for harassment. Under HR 3133, a person's beliefs on natural marriage cannot be used as a basis for exclusion from federal programs or benefits. Barely 24 hours after it was introduced, Labrador's bill had 62 cosponsors.
Hopefully, the measure will help bring the spotlight back to the fallout of the marriage debate -- and not a moment too soon. Yesterday, the Department of Labor announced its intent to trample the will of voters -- and the sovereignty of 37 states -- by ordering the federal government to start applying same-sex benefits in all 50 states. (We'll have more on this latest outrage Monday). In the meantime, urge your congressman to sign on to Rep. Labrador's bill and take the first step in protecting Americans against an administration bent on ignoring their constitutional rights.
Sentence Punctuated by Congress, Media
The liberal media may not give conservatives a fair shake, but they certainly have a soft spot for Leo Johnson. After yesterday's hearing, in which FRC shooter Floyd Corkins was sentenced to 25 years in prison, reporters across the country were clamoring for time with Leo the Hero. As he moved from interview to interview (including a stop on yesterday's "Washington Watch" radio), our friends -- like CNSNews.com and Gov. Mike Huckabee -- continued their solid coverage of the shooting and its aftermath.
On the Hill, the support was just as strong. In a powerful rebuke of Southern Poverty Law Center, the organization which fueled Corkins's attack, four members of Congress took to the House floor to decry their reckless labeling of Christian organizations and harassment of conservatives. Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kans.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) used yesterday's sentencing as an opportunity to call for an end to the SPLC's intolerance. As I said in a column for today's Washington Times, Corkins admitted to the FBI that he identified Family Research Council as a target through the Southern Poverty Law Center's so-called "hate map." Prosecutors later revealed in federal court this link between SPLC and this act of domestic terrorism. In the greatest irony, the Southern Poverty Law Center -- the supposed authority on all things "hateful" -- was linked in court to Corkins' attack on the Family Research Council.
Despite the evidence, many in the media refuse to admit what the Southern Poverty Law Center itself says: SPLC is a liberal organization dedicated to tracking what it considers to be "right-wing" extremism. It's time for the Southern Poverty Law Center retract its inaccurate and malicious hate label, which encouraged Corkins' hateful violence, and send another message: Civil discourse is essential to a democratic republic.
** On Friday's edition of "Washington Watch," FRC's Vice President of Government Affairs David Christensen joins us to talk about the latest action on the Hill. Rep. Vicky Hartzler will stop by later to talk about her stance on the House floor speaking out against groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center. Also, Congressman Joe Pitts (R-Pa) will update us on the CR vote today and what it means for the ObamaCare going forward.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.