The battle over the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate is far from over. In fact, on Thursday, the situation may actually intensify as the Senate is reportedly planning a key vote that could have major implications for religious freedom in America.
On Feb. 15, you may recall that Glenn Beck announced the "We Are All Catholics Now" effort to encourage citizens of all faiths to join together to protect religious liberty. To kick off the initiative, Beck asked Americans to reach out to their Senators to urge them to support the Blunt amendment -- legislation that would protect religious institutions' conscience rights.
Historian David Barton appeared on Beck's radio show earlier this month, where he said that listeners had made a profound impact on the debate by urging leaders to support the measure. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, using some legislative tricks, was able to delay a vote on the transportation bill that this particular measure was a part of.
As The Blaze's Tiffany Gabbay reported, and as Barton highlighted, Reid jammed the transportation bill with so many amendments that the Blunt provision didn't "fit" in the end. That being said, the bill is likely to come up for a vote this week, which essentially provides citizens with another opportunity to make their voices heard on the matter.
LifeNews.com has more about the bill and the proposed amendment that would assist in overturning the health care mandate:
The Senate is currently considering S.1813, the Highway bill, and it is expected to be on the Senate floor for the remainder of the week. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, who supports abortion, and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who is pro-life, continue to work on a list of potential amendments to the bill and the Blunt Amendment is expected to be included.
Roy Blunt, a pro-life Republican senator from Missouri, is behind the amendment and he told the University of Missouri student newspaper why he thinks it is important.
“It’s still clear that President Obama does not understand this isn’t about cost, it’s about who controls the religious views of faith-based institutions,” Blunt said. “President Obama believes that he should have that control. Our Constitution states otherwise.”
Sources say that the vote for the bill, which is said to be planned for Thursday, will center around tabling it (killing it). Since this is the case, concerned citizens are being encouraged to call their Senators to both encourage them not to kill the bill and to also support it.
The language of the amendment reflects that of Blunt's "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act" (a separate legislative measure with identical goals). The purpose for the the Blunt amendment reads, "To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to protect rights of conscience with regard to requirements for coverage of specific items and services" (it can be read in its entirety here).
The Hill explored the partisan division that exists over the proposal, as Democrats claim it will lead to massive deficiencies in terms of what's available to women and Republicans praising it as the key to freedom:
Senate Democrats said Tuesday that up to 20 million women could lose access to healthcare services [more on that here] under an amendment from Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), but Republicans argue that the proposal would change very little about the healthcare system.
Blunt’s amendment, which could see a vote in the Senate this week, would let employers opt out of federal benefit mandates that violate their religious or moral beliefs.
Sources supportive of the initiative say that it's important to discourage leaders from tabling it, while also asking them to showcase their support. Now that the vote is likely coming back up (you can read more about the debate), we'll share the directions Beck gave earlier this month for those who wish to push for religious freedom by supporting the Blunt amendment:
Call the Capitol and speak with your Senator. The numbers are: 202.224.3121; 202.225.3121; the toll free numbers for the Capitol Switchboard include: 1-866-220-0044 1-877-851-6437, 1-800-833-6354, 1-888-355-3588, 1-866-808-0065, 1-877-762-8762, 1-800-862-5530.
Call the switchboard, ask to be connected to a Senator from your specific state (it will take two calls, one for each Senator).
- Tell them that you want to tell the Senator to vote not to table the Blunt conscience protection amendment and to continue supporting it.
- Ask them if they know how the Senator will vote on that amendment
- Tell them you want to be contacted back about how he voted (be sure to ask for accountability — they hate it, but it makes them call you back).
- When you call, be sure to tell them “We are all Catholics now”. This key phrase will let them know you are part of a larger, organized movement working in support of religious freedom.