House Speaker John Boehner denounced the Obama administration on Wednesday on the question of religious freedom, vowing to overturn a controversial rule for employers to provide free contraception if it's not rescinded.
"It must not stand and it will not stand," Boehner said on the House floor.
“In recent days, Americans of every faith and political persuasion have mobilized in objection" to the rule he said "constitutes an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country."
“This rule would require faith-based employers – including Catholic charities, schools, universities, and hospitals – to provide services they consider immoral," the Ohio Republican said in prepared remarks. "Those services include sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and devices, and contraception."
The White House has countered that it has exemptions for conscience and that its rules are no more extensive than ones imposed by two dozen states. Still, Republicans and religious groups have been enraged. In a television interview on Tuesday, Obama campaign adviser, David Axelrod, suggested some room for negotiating.
Boehner’s promise to keep Congress focused on repealing the contraception rule is purely political. He promised to move legislation through “regular order,” meaning a bill would have to be marked up by the Energy and Commerce committee before it can be moved to the floor.
That will delay a House vote on any repeal of the contraception rule for at least a few weeks. The Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee held a hearing in November on the rule, but committee leaders have not yet written legislation to undo the birth control provision. It also means the legislation will be no different than the nearly dozen health reform law repeal bills the House has passed over the past year.
Boehner telegraphed that he knows nothing coul dhappen quickly. “In the days ahead, the House will approach this matter fairly and deliberately, through regular order and the appropriate legislative channels," he said. "Because it has primary jurisdiction on the issues involved, the Energy & Commerce Committee is taking the lead on the legislative process that will be necessary to enact an effective and appropriate solution."