The House of Representatives voted Thursday night to block a new law passed by the Washington, D.C., city council which many fear will be used to deny Americans their First Amendment rights.
The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or their spouses or dependents for obtaining contraception or family planning services, or take action against those who have an abortion.
The House vote against RHNDA, 228-192, fell mostly on party lines, with three Democrats joining Republicans in opposition to the new law, and 13 Republicans joining the Democrats in support of keeping RHNDA in place.
Congresswoman Diane Black, R-Tenn., who introduced the House measure opposing RHNDA, said, “At its core, the Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act is perhaps the most discriminatory ‘nondiscrimination’ law we have seen to date. I am proud that the House took a stand for religious freedom and acted to protect the First Amendment rights of pro-life Washingtonians by passing my resolution to overturn RHNDA.”
Those opposed to RHNDA fear it will be used to force religious organizations and other advocacy groups, such as the National Right to Life Committee and the Susan B. Anthony List, to hire employees who do not share their beliefs regarding the sanctity of human life.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has introduced the companion legislation in the Senate opposing RHNDA, said in a release, “Both the House and Senate have a constitutional duty to protect citizens’ religious liberty, as enshrined in the First Amendment.”
Article I of the Constitution provides that Congress has ultimate legislative authority over the District of Columbia “in all cases whatsoever.” The last time Congress exercised its authority to block a measure passed by the D.C. city government was in 1991, when the council sought to amend a law restricting the height of buildings in the district.
The prospects for RHNDA to ultimately be blocked by congressional action do not look promising. Under the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, Congress has 30 days to weigh in on any laws passed by the D.C. city council, and that deadline is Saturday.
The Senate is notoriously slow to act on new legislation, and the resolution still requires President Obama’s signature to become law. The White House has signaled it supports RHNDA and the president would veto legislation to block it.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth