(WASHINGTON) — Senate Republicans Thursday tried to put language that would repeal the Obama administration’s mandate that religious entities cover contraception into the non-related highway bill that’s currently pending on the Senate floor.
The move was intercepted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who blocked the contraception-repeal amendment being called for by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., calling it “senseless.”
“I appreciate the Republicans’ opportunity to never lose an opportunity to mess up a good piece of legislation,” Reid said sarcastically. “Let’s do the banking part of this bill. Let’s do the finance part of this bill. Let’s do the commerce part of this bill. But to show how the Republicans never lose an opportunity to mess up a good piece of legislation, listen to this: They’re talking about First Amendment rights, the Constitution.”
Reid blocked the repeal language from being considered with the other germane amendments to the transportation bill, infuriating Republicans who have been calling for President Obama to reverse his decision on the contraception mandate.
“They won’t allow those of us who are sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution to even offer an amendment that says we believe in our First Amendment right to religious freedom,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “This is a day I was not inclined to think I would ever see. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life defending the First Amendment, but I never thought I’d see a day when the elected representatives of the people of this country would be blocked by a majority party in Congress to even express their support for it regardless of the ultimate outcome.”
Reid said the rule on the contraception mandate has not been made final by the White House yet — so everyone should sit tight.
“Let’s wait until there’s at least a rule that we can talk about,” Reid said. “Everybody should calm down. Let’s see what transpires. So let’s deal until there’s a final rule on this. Let’s deal with the issue before us.”
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