Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and James Lankford of Oklahoma have introduced a resolution to overturn two laws pertaining to abortion and gay rights passed by the Washington, D.C., council and signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, The Washington Post
The lawmakers said the local laws violate religious freedom.
The Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 would apply gay nondiscrimination laws to religiously affiliated educational institutions, and the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 would prevent faith institutions from taking action against workers who have abortions.
The city council has since amended the abortion law to explain that employers may refuse insurance coverage for abortions and contraception that they oppose because of religious principles, the Post reported.
All D.C. laws are subject to a mandatory 30-day review period by Congress.
Lankford said in a statement that "what the D.C. Council has done is a major threat to the fundamental right to religious freedom for D.C. residents and organizations, and a brazen display of intolerance."
The Supreme Court had affirmed that some employers are exempted from paying for birth control under Obamacare when doing so conflicts with their religious tenets, he said.
Kimberly Perry, who leads the lobbying group D.C. Vote, said: "Senators Cruz and Lankford's move to disapprove a local District law is absurd and hypocritical. They are now guilty of the same federal overreach they often criticize in others," the Post reported.
A number of religious groups, among them representatives of the Family Research Council and the Archdiocese of Washington have called on Congress
to disapprove of the D.C. laws on the grounds that they infringe upon constitutional protections of religious freedom.
Cruz is a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. A Southern Baptist, he is popular among social conservatives. Lankford trained as a Baptist minister
and was a two-term congressman before winning his Senate seat in November.
Congress has until April 17 to overturn the D.C. laws. In the unlikely event that happens the bill would still — more improbably — have to be signed by President Barack Obama, according to Roll Call.
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