Upton Outlines Plans for Energy and Commerce Committee to Advance Legislation in Support of Conscience Protections

February 8, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) today announced plans to advance legislation through the committee and the U.S. House of Representatives that will reverse a recent decision by the Obama administration that will force religious employers to purchase and provide services that violate their religious beliefs and moral convictions.

"Americans from across the ideological spectrum are speaking with one voice against this unprecedented and unprovoked encroachment on religious freedom. From faith leaders to opinion leaders, a loud and growing chorus of voices are demanding action to restore the conscience protections threatened by this administration's misguided mandates," said Upton. "The Energy and Commerce Committee began examining this controversial proposal when it was first offered last year, meeting privately with the administration and urging them to reconsider this threat to religious freedom. I am deeply disappointed with the recent decision to ignore long-standing protections of religious conscience, and I plan to move quickly, working with my colleagues who share the commitment to the First Amendment, to advance legislation that restores the protections that are now imperiled."

The Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on November 2, 2011, examining the threat of health care mandates to conscience rights and access to care. Despite widespread concern about how this new policy would infringe on the rights of religious employers, HHS recently affirmed its decision to move forward with the policy. In response, Upton is preparing to move quickly on legislation to reverse the controversial decision and restore longstanding conscience protections. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to testify before the committee on March 1, 2012, giving members an opportunity to question the secretary directly on this controversial rule. In the coming weeks, the Health Subcommittee and Full Energy and Commerce Committee will vote on legislation to reverse the administration's mandate and restore conscience protections.