Marco Rubio blasts White House on religious conscience controversy

As the furor grew over the recent Obama administration ruling regarding abortion-related services at faith-based hospitals, Florida’s freshman Republican Sen. Marco Rubio stepped up the counter-attack from Capitol Hill.

In an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS before his address at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington Thursday, Rubio denounced the Health and Human Services Department ruling that requires faith-based hospitals and other health providers to provide information and services related to abortion and contraception that are against their religious beliefs.

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Branding the ruling an assault on “the constitutional right of religious expression,” the senator spelled out his legislation (S. 2043) to overturn the Obama administration dictum.  He also told HUMAN EVENTS that the president “should have listened to Vice President Joe Biden,” citing published reports that Biden had urged him not to come down with the ruling that has stirred up fierce opposition among Roman Catholics as well as other faiths.  (Former White House Chief of Staff William Daley also reportedly urged Obama not to go in this direction.)

Rubio added his view that this is “the first time” an administration has clashed with faiths over matters of conscience and said if the president doesn’t change his mind on the issue, “we [Congress] will have to do it for him.”

Others weighing in with Rubio in opposition to the measure include Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Bob Casey, Jr. (Penn.), and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), with Manchin agreeing to co-sponsor Rubio’s legislation.