Morning Action: #ReligiousFreedomforAll Matters

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.  Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments over one of today’s most important religious liberty issues in recent years, explains the Heritage Foundation’s Sarah Torre.  They will hear challenges to Obamacare’s HHS, which requires employers to provide coverage for abortion inducing drugs:

At the heart of the issues before the Supreme Court is the question of who will decide what religious freedom means, and where and when Americans can live out their values. From the creation of the mandate and its narrow religious exemption, the government has erroneously declared itself the arbiter of religious freedom when it comes to the coercive rule.

Emboldened by the new-found authority granted through the President’s sweeping healthcare law, the Obama administration included one of the narrowest religious exemptions in federal policy to the coercive mandate. Indeed, this exemption effectively applies only to formal houses of worship. For everyone else, including family businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, the message was clear: get over your deeply held beliefs and get in line with the mandate.

HOBBY LOBBY.  Hobby Lobby is owned by the Green family, and they seek to run their business in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs.  Americans on both sides of the issues are holding signs up in front of the Supreme Court.  Below is a depiction of Americans standing for the Green family and religious freedom more generally:

UKRAINE.  Meanwhile, the Senate will continue to debate legislation providing aid to Ukraine (sub. req’d):

A Russia sanctions measure cleared its first procedural hurdle in the Senate on Monday, but with a House committee preparing to take up competing legislation today, the chambers are set to collide over whether to include language to overhaul the International Monetary Fund’s structure.

We oppose the measure because of the inclusion of unnecessary International Monetary Fund (IMF) “reforms” included in the bill.  The “reforms” would reduce the power of the United States.  Read our key vote here.

TAX REFORM.  Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) says that he plans to seek a “permanent” fix to dozens of expired tax provisions (sub. req’d):

The top House tax writer told colleagues on Monday that he plans to seek a “permanent” fix to the dozens of expired tax provisions, potentially increasing momentum for work on the package of temporary breaks known as tax extenders.

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., who up until now has quelled talk about the provisions to focus on his ambitious tax overhaul plan, said in a memo to members of the committee Monday that he would hold hearings and markups “going policy to policy to determine which extenders should be made permanent.”

DOC FIX.  The Medicare “doc fix” bill is still under consideration in Congress, and there is talk of adding maternal and child home visit programs (sub. req’d):

Advocates are pushing Congress to extend an expiring maternal and child home visiting program by attaching a reauthorization to a measure that would change the way Medicare pays doctors.

The nature of that so-called Medicare “doc fix” is still uncertain, as lawmakers begin to look at a short-term patch while work continues on a broader policy change. But advocates for the maternal and child home visiting program say they’d be happy with either alternative, since a “doc fix” in some form is a must-do item for Congress in the next few weeks.

Congress created the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program in the 2010 health care law (PL 111-148PL 111-152) and authorized funding for it through fiscal 2014. The program provides grants to states to fund voluntary home visiting programs that provide parenting help to high-risk families, including teen parents, low-income families and those with lower levels of education.

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