Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) accused Democrats of declaring “war on the Catholic Church” by imposing “faith fines” on religious groups that refuse to offer contraceptives as part of employee health care benefits.
The Texas Republican spoke Wednesday in opposition to a bill introduced by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) that would, in effect, overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.
“The bill that is being voted on this floor, if it were adopted, would fine the Little Sisters of the Poor millions of dollars unless these Catholic nuns are willing to pay for abortion-producing drugs for others,” Cruz said.
Cruz -- a likely 2016 presidential candidate who has been claiming in recent speeches to faith groups that Democrats intend to overturn the First Amendment – then posed a loaded question to President Barack Obama.
“Mr. President, when did the Democratic Party declare war on the Catholic Church?” the senator said.
Cruz then offered some “concern troll” advice to Democrats.
“Let me make a basic suggestion,” Cruz said. “If you're litigating against nuns, you have probably done something wrong, and the Obama administration is doing so right now. Mr. President, drop your faith fines. Mr. Majority leader, drop your faith fines. To all of my Democratic colleagues, drop your faith fines. Get back to the shared values that stitch all of us together as Americans.”
Senate Republicans successfully filibustered the “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act” that would have preserved the contraception coverage exemption for religious institutions and nonprofit groups.
But for-profit corporations – such as Hobby Lobby – would have been required to provide employees with insurance plans that offered contraceptive coverage.
As for Little Sisters of the Poor, the Obama administration has said the charity’s insurer – the Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust – is exempt from the mandate.
But the nonprofit organization objects to a federal requirement to sign a form that would allow employees to seek birth control directly from their insurance carrier.
Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor granted a temporary injunction early this year from that provision in the Affordable Care Act, and the case is still pending before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Watch all of his remarks posted online by SenTedCruz: