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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) in introducing the Modification to Department of Defense (DoD) Travel Authorities for Abortion-Related Expenses Act of 2023. The legislation would restrict the Secretary of Defense’s ability to provide paid leave and transportation for service members or their dependents to seek an abortion.

The bill would amend the department’s travel statute to eliminate a loophole that the DoD is exploiting. The legislation would ensure that the department's policies would reflect the current law and intent of the Hyde Amendment.

“At every turn the Biden administration is trying to use taxpayer dollars to fund unfettered access to abortion—even at the Defense Department. This bill would end the loophole that the DoD is abusing and reinforce current law,” said Kennedy.

“The Pentagon should not be mobilized against the unborn. The Department of Defense exists to defend life, not destroy it. Biden DoD’s policy is not just unlawful, it’s immoral. Congress has been clear; the Hyde Amendment protects taxpayers from being forced to fund abortions. I will continue to ensure the unborn and your tax dollars are protected,”said Ernst.

Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) also cosponsored the legislation. 

 Full bill text is available here

 

 

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and more than 40 Republican senators today introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to prevent the Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from enforcing an anti-Second Amendment pistol brace rule.

 The rule, titled Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached Stabilizing Braces, would reclassify pistols as short-barreled rifles if they have a stabilizing brace attachment, even though many disabled veterans and other Americans rely on these braces to use their firearms. Under this rule, otherwise lawful gun owners could face up to 10 years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines if they fail to register pistols with stabilizing braces with the ATF. If gun owners do not register their firearms, they would have to destroy the firearm, surrender their firearm to the ATF or remove the brace in such a way that it cannot be reattached.

In addition to the CRA resolution, Kennedy and Marshall are introducing a bill to prevent federal funds from being used to implement, administer, or enforce this unconstitutional rule.

 “Millions of law-abiding Americans use pistol braces, and many of those Americans rely on braces because they are disabled. If Congress doesn’t correct the ATF’s misguided rule, countless law-abiding gunowners in Louisiana and other states will become criminals in the blink of an eye. The Biden administration’s assault on the Second Amendment isn’t going to stop unless we defend this fundamental liberty,” said Kennedy.

“The Biden administration’s war on every American’s fundamental right to bear arms is relentless and an offense to our founders. Congress must use every tool at its disposal to stop the Biden ATF from enacting this unconstitutional gun grab and creating its newly proposed anti-2nd Amendment gun registry. The Congressional Review Act is one of those important tools and I’m pleased to co-lead this effort with Senator Kennedy,” said Marshall. 

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) is introducing Kennedy’s resolution in the House of Representatives.

“The ATF's unconstitutional pistol brace rule reveals the agency's brazen disregard for our Constitution and Congress' sole legislative authority. Unelected anti-gun bureaucrats simply do not have the power to propel President Biden's goal of disarming our nation and dismantling our Second Amendment freedoms by registering and banning millions of firearms. In the face of the Biden Administration's latest gun-grabbing measure, it's time for Congress to utilize the Congressional Review Act to fight for law-abiding gun owners. As a stalwart supporter of the Second Amendment and a Federal Firearms Licensee by trade, I'm proud to lead the effort to terminate the ATF's latest tyrannical tactic with Congressman Richard Hudson and Senator John Kennedy. We remain unwavering in the defense of Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms," said Clyde.

In 2012, the Obama-Biden administration’s ATF determined that pistol-brace attachments do not change the classification of a pistol to that of a rifle. Despite this, the Biden administration in 2021 directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to propose a rule that clarifies when a pistol with a brace attachment should be designated as a rifle.

Earlier this year, the DOJ announced the “stabilizing braces” final rule

 “The ATF’s overreaching rule seeks to penalize and disarm law-abiding gun owners across America, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in challenging this new regulation,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).

“Every day, people across Wyoming responsibly use their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. President Biden’s unconstitutional rule threatens to turn law-abiding citizens into criminals. We must stop the administration from imposing the largest government-initiated gun registration and confiscation program in history. I will fight against any policies that jeopardize the Second Amendment rights of the people of Wyoming and across the country,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

“The Biden administration’s rulemaking on pistol braces is a gun confiscation scheme that would punish millions of Americans for exercising their constitutional right. This rule and the higher taxes, longer waiting periods, and red tape is by design to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens, and I urge Attorney General Garland and ATF Director Dettelbach to reverse it immediately,”said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

“The ATF’s new rule forces Second Amendment sanctuary states like North Dakota to alter, destroy, surrender, or register pistol-stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles. Instead of targeting criminals, the new rule punishes millions of law-abiding citizens. I will always protect our constitutional right to bear arms, which is why I strongly oppose this rule. I urge my Senate colleagues to do the same,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).

“Gun owners in Nebraska and across our country have a fundamental right to bear arms that is protected by the Second Amendment. This proposal is yet another example of excessive overreach by the federal government that unfairly burdens law abiding firearm owners. I’m proud to join my colleagues in supporting a resolution to overturn this misguided rule,” said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.).

“The new rule on pistol braces is a gross violation of Americans’ Second Amendment rights. The Biden Administration has continuously demonstrated a willingness to overstep the bounds of the Constitution. We will stand with gun owners,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

“The President has no authority to order this backdoor attempt to infringe on the constitutional rights of millions of Americans. I’m pleased to join my Senate colleagues in fighting to stop this government gun grab,” said Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.). 

“I’m a proud supporter of our Constitution and the 2nd Amendment. Biden and the far-left’s blatant attempt to push overreaching policies that infringe on the rights of law-abiding Americans is completely unacceptable. I’m proud to join my colleagues to reverse this ridiculous attempt to make criminals of law-abiding gun owners and protect the constitutional rights our nation was founded on,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.). 

“The Biden Administration’s blatant disregard for Constitutional rights hit a new low with their pistol brace rule. A pistol brace is a stabilizer that serves as a gun accommodation to help veterans with disabilities more safely handle a pistol. Regardless of this safety function, this new rule will require owners of a pistol brace to consent to being added to a federal gun registry—which is blatantly illegal—or risk up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to a quarter million dollars. The American people need a say in whether this bill is instituted, and the only way to guarantee that is for Congress to demand Congressional approval before this rule is implemented. I strongly oppose this unlawful ban, and I hope our Congressional Review Act ensures that I have the chance to vote against this rule in the Senate,” said Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho).

“Second Amendment rights are not based in law or regulation, but enshrined in the Constitution. Oklahomans know well how the progressive Biden Administration is trying to erode Second Amendment rights by making guns, ammunition, and gun-related products like pistol braces difficult to own. Law-abiding gun owners are counting on us to protect their rights and their use of pistol braces. Congress should make it clear to the ATF that we won’t stand for this overreach,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). 

“After blessing the use of pistol braces for years, the ATF will now require anyone who owns a gun with a pistol brace to remove it, turn the gun in, or register it. This thoughtless regulation won’t stop criminals—but it will saddle legal gun owners with even more rules,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

“The ATF under the Biden administration insists on issuing rules that end up infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners while doing next to nothing to stop violent crime. It’s too much. I hope enough Senators will stand up and block this ill-advised and unneeded rule,” said Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).

“This new rule is yet another example of federal overreach by Biden’s Department of Justice. The unconstitutional action from the ATF is an infringement on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join us in halting this action by the Administration,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). 

“The ATF has proven time and time again that they are determined on carrying out Biden and Senate Democrats’ unconstitutional gun-grabbing agenda. I will fight this move by unelected Washington bureaucrats that would strip Montanans of their Second Amendment rights,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

“Joe Biden’s Pistol Brace Rule is wholly inconsistent with the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment. Along with its impractical application, it is unacceptable for the federal government to tax and take away the ability of tens of millions of Americans, including disabled veterans, to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms. As a strong defender of the Second Amendment, I will always protect the rights of all law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms,” said Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.).

“Stabilizing braces were initially designed and manufactured to assist disabled combat veterans in shooting larger pistols that were otherwise too cumbersome for a gun owner with a disability to use. The ATF previously ruled that they are permissible. This decision to overturn that ruling infringes on the Second Amendment rights of Wyoming veterans who served our nation honorably as well as other people in Wyoming who use pistol braces. I'm proud to join Senator Kennedy in introducing this Congressional Review Act resolution opposing this unconstitutional rule,” said Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).

“The Biden administration is once again attempting to punish law-abiding Americans, including disabled veterans who have made tremendous sacrifices to protect our rights. Federal bureaucrats have no authority to tamper with or undermine the Second Amendment. Congress should use every tool to block ATF from acquiring information that could be used to confiscate firearms or target responsible gun owners,” said Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.). 

“The disrespect shown to disabled veterans by the Biden administration is unconscionable. Make no mistake; unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats are punishing veterans for enjoying their rights protected by the Second Amendment. Stabilizing braces have long been a safe, helpful, and legal remedy for those who have lost the physical ability to conventionally use a firearm due to their service to our country. Senator Kennedy’s legislation is a thoughtful check on the disdain conveyed by President Biden. I’m proud to support those who have sacrificed their bodies to support America,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). 

“Congress has the sole power to change our federal laws, and the Biden administration’s rule on the use of pistol braces infringes on both the Constitutional authority granted to the legislative branch and further erodes public confidence in the administration’s adherence to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

“The Biden Administration’s recent stabilizing brace rule is blatant overreach of ATF’s rulemaking authority—adding burdensome regulations on law-abiding gun owners without actually doing anything to make our communities safer. The Administration should focus on cracking down on violent crime, not punishing law-abiding Americans,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dan Sullivan (R-Ohio), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also cosponsored the legislation.

“The Second Amendment explicitly prohibits President Biden from using the ATF to ban millions of lawfully purchased pistols—especially without the passage of a new law by Congress. Gun Owners of America proudly supports using the Congressional Review Act to disapprove of the Biden Pistol Ban and stop this rule from infringing on the rights of millions of gun owners before they are compelled to rebuild, destroy, turn in, or register their pistols in the next 120 days. GOA is proud to see Representatives Andrew Clyde and Richard Hudson as well as Senators John Neely Kennedy and Roger Marshall leading the fight against President Biden’s unconstitutional gun grab,” said Gun Owners of America’s Director of Federal Affairs Aidan Johnston.

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) is leading the legislation with Clyde in the House.

“This rule jeopardizes the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners and disabled combat veterans. I’m proud to lead the fight in blocking the ATF’s unconstitutional pistol brace rule,” said Hudson.

Full text of the CRA resolution is available here

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $79,061,368 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid grants for Louisiana.

“Louisianians are going to see this $79 million go towards restoring hospitals, schools and power lines that Hurricanes Laura and Ida damaged. This funding will also lower the risk of flooding in West Baton Rouge,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $22,477,433 to Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative Inc. for restoring damaged transmission lines from Manchester to Gibbstown as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $14,704,579 to the Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative Inc. for permanent repairs as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $14,271,273 to Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative Inc. for restoring damaged transmission lines as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $5,319,401 to the Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative Inc. for damages to the Creole Substation as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $4,580,397 to East Baton Rough Parish for debris removal operations as a result of Hurricane Ida.
  • $4,291,694 to Calcasieu Parish School Board for repairs to damaged facilities at Fairview Elementary School as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $4,128,263 to Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative Inc. for electric distribution repairs as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $3,382,239 to West Calcasieu Airport Managing Board for damages as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $2,688,199 to the Southwest Louisiana Hospital Association for emergency protective measures as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,830,420 to West Baton Rouge Parish for improvements to Bayou Stumpy for flood risk reduction.
  • $1,387,470 to the Lafourche Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 for permanent restoration as a result of Hurricane Ida.

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced a package of bills to improve and broaden Louisianians’ access to telehealth services. The proposed legislation would make it easier for patients to connect with their doctors during an emergency or natural disaster. It would also end a regulation that limits access to telehealth services and expand access to virtual mental and behavioral health treatment.

“Telehealth services help Louisiana patients who aren’t always able to make a trip to the doctor. I wrote these bills to support telehealth providers and the Louisianians they care for,” said Kennedy.

Audio-Only Telehealth for Emergencies Act 

The Audio-Only Telehealth for Emergencies Act would make it easier for Louisianians to access health care during an emergency, including natural disasters. The bill would allow physicians delivering care during a public health emergency or a major disaster declaration to receive the same compensation for audio-only telehealth visits as they would receive for in-person appointments.

Text of the Audio-Only Telehealth for Emergencies Act is available here.

Telehealth HSA Act

The Telehealth Health Savings Account (HSA) Act would allow employers to offer high-deductible health plans that include telehealth services without limiting employees’ ability to use health savings accounts. A current IRS regulation stops employees from making or receiving contributions to HSAs if they hold a high-deductible health plan that waives the deductible for telehealth services. This means that employees holding such high-deductible health plans will often need to pay out of pocket for telehealth services.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act temporarily waived this regulation, and the Telehealth HSA Act would make this waiver permanent.

Text of the Telehealth HSA Act is available here.

EASE Behavioral Health Services Act

The Enhance Access to Support Essential (EASE) Behavioral Health Services Act would allow mental and behavioral health professionals providing telehealth services through Medicare and Medicaid to be reimbursed at the same levels as they would for conducting in-person visits. This would allow patients to receive care in the comfort of their own homes and reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment.

Text of the EASE Behavioral Health Services Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $4,227,583 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid grant for Louisiana.

“Hurricane Laura’s landfall impacted the everyday operations of businesses like Beauregard Electric Cooperative, Inc. I’m glad to see this $4.2 million supporting recovery efforts to better serve Louisianians,” said Kennedy. 

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $4,227,583 to Beauregard Electric Cooperative, Inc. for management costs related to Hurricane Laura.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Preventing Malign CCP Influence on Academic Institutions Act to shed light on monetary gifts that America’s schools are taking from Communist China.

“The Chinese Communist Party has been targeting our universities for a long time, and Americans deserve to know whether their schools are yoking themselves to such an oppressive, authoritarian regime. This bill would shine a light on where Beijing is peddling its influence on the U.S. campuses that shape our kids’ hearts and minds,” said Kennedy. 

The Preventing Malign CCP Influence on Academic Institutions Act would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to illuminate disclosures of foreign gifts to schools. 

Under Kennedy’s bill, any educational institution that receives more than $5,000 from a Chinese-affiliated entity in any given year would have to disclose the full name of the donor to the Department of Education. The school would also have to provide instructions on how the Department of Education can gather more information about the donation.

Chinese-affiliated entities would include individuals; universities; think tanks; cultural, educational or language programs; Chinese state-owned entities; or companies, think tanks or nonprofits that have members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sitting on their boards of directors.

The bill would also require any educational institution that interacts with a Chinese organization to disclose all joint activities, including exchanges or research.

In addition, institutions would have to publish all contracts and agreements with Chinese entities on their websites so the public can freely access that information.

The full bill text is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) today wrote to Stanford University President March Tessier-Lavigne and Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez about the involvement of law professors Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried with the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and its related entities. 

“Please send me a copy of any reports, analyses or documents that the university or the law school have prepared about the involvement of Professor Bankman or Professor Fried with FTX or its related entities,” wrote the senators. 

Additionally, Kennedy and Marshall requested a copy of Stanford Law School and Stanford University’s written policies governing faculty members’ involvement in non-university extracurricular activities, including for-profit activities. The senators also asked for any periodic reports or disclosures filed by either Bankman or Fried according to school policy.

The letter is available here.

Watch video here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) made the case today on the Senate floor for Germany—Europe’s economic leader—to increase its contribution to battling Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Currently, Germany’s spending to help Ukraine, measured by share of GDP, does not fall in the top 10 nations offering financial support to Ukraine.

Key excerpts from Kennedy speech include:

“Germany’s so-called strong support is more lamb than lion.”

“Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the United Kingdom have all outspent Germany by share of gross domestic product. Our neighbors in Canada have outspent Germany, too, both in raw dollars and by share of GDP.  And the same is certainly true of the American people. The American people have spent roughly double—double—what our friends in Germany have spent in Ukraine fighting for freedom, by share of gross domestic product.”

“ . . . Americans are wondering why the United States and Canada have dug deeper to deter Russian aggression than Germany has.”

“Germany is the economic leader of Europe. Germany has the fourth largest economy in the world. But, the fact is . . . that Germany is failing to pull its weight in Ukraine. And if we look back, Mr. President, on the past year, it’s very clear that Germany’s support of Ukraine has been heavy on words and short on action. And I hate to have to say that. Somehow, Germany’s leadership has lost the urgency it had when Putin began his march into Ukraine.”

“For several decades . . . Germany became increasingly reliant on Russia’s energy.  Germany appeared to believe, foolishly—naively, maybe is a better word—that its energy trade with Putin would yield friendship. Instead, it yielded dependency. . . . Putin knew that Germany’s energy dependency would make it a lot easier for him to march into Ukraine, not harder. Everybody knew it.”

“In the wake of Putin’s rapid invasion, Chancellor Scholz made big promises. He called it a turning point in German history. He said defense spending was going to increase to 2%. He said he was going to create an extra military fund valued at $107 billion. He said his military was going to increase by 30,000 women and men by 2025. I regret, Mr. President, that Germany’s urgency seems to have disappeared.

“Military spending has barely nudged above 1.5%, still short of the 2% commitment that Germany made to NATO. Germany did purchase 35 American F-35 fighter jets. You know when they’re going to be ready? 2027. And experts a lot smarter than me doubt Germany will reach its 30,000 promised new troops by the date it said it would. The truth is . . . since the invasion began, Germany has been slow to provide weapons to Ukraine.”   

“Even when offering up so little, the German chancellor demanded that the United States of America do more.”

“Promises to recruit more troops, spend more money, reinvigorate its Bundeswehr—they’re nice, but those are only words. Germany seems to acknowledge that the barbarians are at the gate. . . . So why aren’t our friends in Germany willing to act?”

“In every way, Putin poses a larger threat to Germany than he does to the United States. . . . Yet the United States of America, the people of this country, have outspent Germany seven times in helping our friends in Ukraine.”  

“If Germany wants to be a leader in Europe . . . it needs to lead. That starts with footing the bill for its own defense. . . . It starts with helping Ukraine. We’ve wasted a year, Mr. President. It’s long past time for our friends in Germany to step up and meet the defense promises it made when Putin invaded.”

Video of Kennedy’s remarks is here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $84,832,228 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid grants for Louisiana.

“I’m thankful that $80 million will support infrastructure repairs to power providers that Hurricane Ida badly damaged, and I’m grateful to see $4 million supporting Louisianians in East Baton Rouge, where severe flooding threatens homes and livelihoods,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $77,630,333 to the South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association for system-wide repairs related to Hurricane Ida.
  • $4,209,395 to elevate 22 properties damaged by flooding in East Baton Rouge Parish.  
  • $2,992,500 to Terrebonne Parish for damages Hurricane Ida made to the Houma Power Plant.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) in filing a public comment letter with the Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) in filing a public comment letter with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) demanding that it enforce all conscience protections that Congress has passed into law all statutory conscience protections that Congress has passed into law.

The letter comes in response to the Biden administration’s proposed rule to eliminate and change certain conscience protections that currently protect medical professionals.

“Congress has enacted federal conscience statutes that govern HHS-funded programs to ‘protect the rights of individuals, entities, and health care entities to refuse to perform, assist in the performance of, or undergo certain health care services or research activities to which they may object for religious, moral, ethical, or other reasons.’ The proposed rule falls short of properly enforcing these laws as written and consistent with Congressional intent,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The Proposed Rule claims that ‘our health care systems must effectively deliver services—including safe, legal abortions—to all who need them in order to protect patients’ health and dignity.’ Leaving aside that the current Administration has focused immense attention on promoting and paying for abortion, including at times, in violation of federal and state law, such a claim will only lead to further diminution of conscience rights provided by Congress. It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that in the wake of the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, HHS has still prioritized abortion access over nearly anything else, including following and enforcing the law,” they continued.

“Instead of supporting proposed legislation like the Conscience Protection Act to allow victims of discrimination to also have their day in court, HHS is blocking possible legal remedy for victims of discrimination by dropping enforcement actions and clear mechanisms for investigation and enforcement, and making it harder for any further discrimination claims to be filed, investigated, and remedied,” explained the lawmakers.

Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) also signed the letter.

 Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) led the letter in the House of Representatives. 

The full letter is available here.