Citing a need to protect citizens' religious liberty, Sen. Ted Cruz on Friday called on Congress to formally disapprove of a bill passed by the District of Columbia Council to prevent employers from retaliating against workers who have abortions or premarital sex.
"The D.C. Council has proposed two measures that trample the very rights the First Amendment was designed to protect: the right of citizens to freely practice their faith.
"The Constitution gives Congress the authority to exercise jurisdiction over the District of Columbia 'in all cases whatsoever.' And both the House and Senate have a constitutional duty to protect citizens' religious liberty, as enshrined in the First Amendment," Cruz said in a statement issued
hours after the House of Representatives voted to reverse the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA).
“I applaud the House for passing a resolution of disapproval of RHNDA. I urge the Senate to immediately do the same," he said on Friday.
The disapproval measure was sponsored by Tennessee Republican Diane Black and passed the House by a vote of 228-192 on Thursday evening.
Cruz co-sponsored a companion resolution in the Senate targeting the RHNDA and the Human Rights Amendment Act, which opponents contend protects gay student groups and would prevent religious educational institutions from barring funds from going to groups that they believe violate their religious beliefs.
It represents the first time since 1991 that a chamber of Congress has voted to overturn a bill passed by the D.C. Council, reports The Hill.
However, the ban will remain law because Congress failed to act before the 30-day review process during which a law passed by the D.C. Council can be blocked expires Saturday, according to Roll Call.
House conservatives are weighing other legislative options for reversing the RHNDA, the paper noted.
Before the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
called the bill "Hobby Lobby on steroids," and urged her colleagues to vote against it.
"This is about a business firing someone, man or woman, for their private health decisions with no bearing on the workplace. In fact, if Republicans had their way, employers would not need to cite religion at all to discriminate against employees for their reproductive decisions," she said in a floor speech on Thursday.
Cruz, who is courting religious conservatives as he seeks the GOP presidential nomination, recently asserted that the Democratic Party was suffering from a "liberal fascism" and that it has decided there is "no room" for Christians in today's society.
"Today’s Democratic Party has decided there is no room for Christians in today’s Democratic Party," he told an audience at last week's Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition summit, according to The Hill.
"There is a liberal fascism that is going after Christian believers. It is heartbreaking. But it is so extreme, it is waking people up," he added.
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