Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has been at the congressional forefront of opposition to the Obama administration’s mandate that even Catholic institutions cover birth control sans co-payment, told reporters today that the next move will be for the president to admit he went too far.
Rubio, who on Jan. 30 introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012 to counter the mandate, spoke after a meeting of Senate Republicans along with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.), Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt (Mo.), and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.).
Rubio said the overreaching of the mandate sets a dangerous precedent and is even making many in the White House “uncomfortable.”
“Here is the solution in my mind,” he said. “The solution is for the president to come back and say, ‘You know what, maybe we overreached. Maybe we went too far. We’ve heard from a lot of people, we are going to reconsider this decision.’ There is nothing wrong with that.”
Rubio said there are plenty of other issues on which they go to battle with Obama, and this didn’t have to be one of them.
“All the president has to do is basically reconsider the decision they made and acknowledge that maybe they went too far and maybe they did not think about it all the way when they made it,” he said. “And I hope that is what will happen.”
If not, he said, Republicans are ready. Rubio’s bill, which faces an uphill climb in the Democratic-controlled Senate, has 26 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. A companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) on Feb. 3.
“If it doesn’t, then I hope that this Senate and that House will act on it, as well, because the American people are asking us to, and I think that’s an important issue,” Rubio said.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) signed on as co-sponsor of Rubio’s bill. “Requiring our nation’s religious institutions to defy the basic tenets of their faiths shows a disturbing disregard for the Constitution’s protections of religious freedom,” Alexander said in a statement today.