Welcome to Biggs' Freedom Fridays
Shedding Light on Unconstitutional Federal Regulations
November 17, 2017 – Fighting for Life and Religious Rights
What does this regulation do?
Under the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” employers are required to offer health insurance policies that include coverage for preventive health care. The Obama administration quickly used its regulatory authority to specify what must be included in those preventive services, requiring birth control and all other FDA-approved contraceptive methods to be provided at no cost.
Why is this a problem?
The rule included exemptions for houses of worship. However, religiously affiliated organizations, and colleges and companies with closely held religious beliefs, were still forced to provide the coverage. Companies like Hobby Lobby and the Catholic religious order, The Little Sisters of the Poor, were forced to file lawsuits to obtain relief. This rule was a prime example of the Obama administration’s many efforts to target religious freedoms and people of faith. Under no circumstance should an organization or company be forced to pay for something that directly contradicts their religious or moral belief.
What I am doing about it
On October 6, 2017, President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) amended the Obama Administration’s rule to provide immediate relief. Under the new rule, employers can be exempt from the coverage requirement if it conflicts with their religious or moral beliefs. President Trump’s action is a win for the religious liberty protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, and one I am proud to applaud. Now, it is up to Congress to make this change permanent, and I will be introducing legislation to do just that.
What are they saying?
“Thankfully, the new policy will protect the cherished First Amendment rights of faith-based organizations to follow their beliefs in their practices. Now, Congress needs to follow Congressman Biggs’ leadership to make this policy change federal law. That will prevent future administrations from changing the policy.” - Cathi Herrod, President of Center for Arizona Policy
“After eight years of the federal government’s relentless assault on the First Amendment, the Trump administration has taken concrete steps today that will once again erect a bulwark of protection around American’s First Freedom – religious freedom. “President Trump is demonstrating his commitment to undoing the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and restoring true religious freedom. Last May, the president ordered the federal government to vigorously promote and protect religious liberty –and now HHS has moved to make that order a reality. “Under the Obama administration, agencies lost the understanding that religious freedoms extend to the public square, not just one’s place of worship. As a result, our own government began threatening hardworking, patriotic Americans with crushing fines for simply seeking to live their lives according to their faith. “President Trump is putting federal government agencies on notice: you will not only respect the freedom of every American to believe but live according to those beliefs. This is a freedom that has been a fundamental part of our society since the beginning of our nation.” - Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council
“Americans United for Life applauds the actions of the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that the right of conscientious employers and employees not to participate in or provide abortion-causing drugs is protected in law. Millions of Americans want no part of an insurance system that subsidizes the destruction of innocent human life, and HHS’s new interim regulation respects that principled stand.” - Catherine Glenn Foster, President and CEO of Americans United for Life
“The beliefs that inspire Christian colleges and universities and the Little Sisters of the Poor to serve their communities should be protected. During his campaign, President Trump promised that protecting religious liberty would be a top priority and people of faith would not be bullied on his watch. We are pleased that this rule is a major step forward in keeping that promise and restoring back to people of faith their constitutionally protected freedom. We are also pleased the rule protects the conscience convictions of organizations like March for Life, an organization that bases its pro-life beliefs on science and philosophy, and hosts the largest pro-life gathering in the world every year in Washington, D.C.” - Gregory S. Baylor, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel
Article I of the United States Constitution grants Congress exclusive power to write federal laws. This structure allows the American people to hold their elected representatives accountable for the policy decisions they make. Over the years, however, Congress has increasingly ceded power to the executive branch by allowing agencies run by unelected bureaucrats to implement regulations that have the force and effect of law.
In 2016 alone, the Obama Administration published nearly 4,000 new regulations. Compared to the number of laws passed by Congress in the same year, that averages out to 18 regulations for every new law. Aside from the constitutional concerns, these regulations have a significant negative impact on the American economy. When factoring in the federal intervention, uncertainty, wealth destruction, job loss, and overall stifling of entrepreneurship, the 2016 cost of regulations was $1.89 trillion, or nearly $15,000 per household. It is time for Congress to reclaim ownership of its privilege and responsibility to write the laws for our nation. The American people must no longer suffer at the hands of unaccountable federal officials.
During the early months of the 115th Congress, the House and the Senate used the Congressional Review Act to overturn 14 regulations implemented in the waning days of the Obama Administration. It is estimated that the repeal of these rules alone could save the economy millions of hours of paperwork, as much as $3.7 billion in regulatory costs to federal agencies, and up to $35 billion in compliance costs for industry.
We made an excellent start to rolling back the regulatory state, but it absolutely should not end our efforts. My main priority while in Congress is to restore the constitutional parameters of the federal government, including ending overregulation. With that in mind, each Friday, I will highlight a freedom-killing regulation that is currently in effect. Check back here each week for updates and follow along in the “Freedom Fridays” section of my newsletter. If you do not already receive my newsletter, you can sign up here.