Legislative Updates – Pray for America's Leaders

Legislative Updates

Oklahoma | November 14, 2021

Oklahoma Guard leader: Troops won’t be forced to take the COVID-19 vaccine

Oklahoma | November 14, 2021

The Pentagon is reviewing a request from Oklahoma’s governor for an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for National Guard troops. For now, Gov. Kevin Stitt says the troops in his state won’t be forced to get the shot, citing his authority over them in all cases except when they are under federal jurisdiction. Unlike the Army and Air Force reserves, the National Guard has a federal and a state mission — and a sometimes competing command structure… (Excerpts from the Washington Times)

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Oklahoma | October 15, 2021

Oklahoma Governor, AG Vow to Fight Biden’s Employee Vaccine Mandate

Oklahoma | October 15, 2021

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor has urged private employers to “disregard” the Biden Administration’s plans to impose a federal vaccine mandate requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated.

President Joe Biden in September announced plans to impose COVID-19 mandates on private employers with more than 100 workers, requiring them to be vaccinated or get a negative test result on a weekly basis before coming to work. Around 80 million Americans in private sector businesses with over 100 employees would be affected if the mandate ever goes into force…. (Excerpts from the Epoch Times)

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Oklahoma | September 10, 2021

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat opposes president’s vaccine mandate

Oklahoma | September 10, 2021

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, released the following statement in opposition of the president’s vaccine mandate:“This is a gross overreach by President Biden and I support our state’s efforts to protect Oklahoma employers and employees from this federal mandate. The vaccines are safe and effective, but it should remain a choice for each of us to decide whether to get vaccinated. The federal government should not interfere in the decision-making of a private business on the steps it takes to protect the health and safety of its employees and customers.”“A federal mandate is a terrible way to convince more people to get vaccinated, and I am disappointed the president would choose this path rather than working alongside state and local officials, and private business, to further address this health care crisis.”… Excerpts from Senator Greg Treat

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District of Columbia, Oklahoma | August 16, 2021

Senate passes nonbinding budget amendment restoring Hyde and conscience protections… but the fight isn’t over

District of Columbia, Oklahoma | August 16, 2021

A Senate budget amendment to preserve the Hyde Amendment and also protect conscience rights for health care providers narrowly passed the Senate by a margin of 50 to 49 late Wednesday.

The amendment to the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget resolution proposed by Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) includes the Hyde Amendment’s prohibition on federal funding for abortion on demand. Senator Lankford’s amendment also includes conscience protections for health care providers and insurance companies who refuse to commit or fund abortions, protected since 2004 under the Weldon Amendment. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) broke with his party to act as the decisive vote in favor of Lankford’s amendment.

“We thank the pro-life champions in the Senate for their tireless work to protect unborn children and their mothers,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, according to a press release…. (Excerpts from LIVE ACTION)

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Oklahoma | August 12, 2021

Lankford Protects Lives of the Unborn, Successfully Prevents Taxpayers from Being Forced to Fund Abortions

Oklahoma | August 12, 2021

Senator James Lankford (R-OK) this evening offered an amendment, which he introduced earlier today, to the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion Fiscal Year 2022 budget to prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for funding of abortions and abortion-related discrimination. The amendment ensures that the budget will comply with the long-standing Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal dollars to pay for abortion, and the Weldon amendment, which protects health care providers who refuse to participate in abortion from discrimination. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 50-49.

A 2020 Marist poll found that 60 percent of Americans, including 37 percent of people who identify as pro-choice, oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion. Earlier this year, Lankford introduced a similar amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Reconciliation bill to ensure health-related funding was compliant with the Hyde amendment. The amendment failed and Lankford voted against the reconciliation bill in part because it would fund abortion for the first time since 1976.

Lankford introduced the Conscience Protection Act of 2021 to protect health care providers, including health insurance plans from government discrimination if they decline to participate in abortions. Lankford introduced the bill ahead of a hearing to consider President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Lankford pressed Xavier Becerra on how he plans to protect the conscience rights of Americans and ensure faith-based entities receive fair treatment.

Lankford introduced the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would make the Hyde amendment permanent. Earlier this year, Lankford reintroduced the bicameral Women’s Public Health and Safety Act, which gives states the authority to exclude abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood, from receiving Medicaid funds….

(Excerpts from U.S. Senator James Lankford)

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Arkansas, Maryland, Oklahoma | August 12, 2021

Lankford, Cotton, Harris Lead Colleagues to Demand Justice for Conscience Rights of Health Care Workers

Arkansas, Maryland, Oklahoma | August 12, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD) led a bicameral group of Senators and Congressmen in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra demanding answers on why the Department of Justice (DOJ) dropped a lawsuit against the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC), which has received federal funds from HHS since 1998, for forcing a nurse to assist with an abortion procedure against the nurse’s registered conscience objections and in clear violation of long-standing federal law.

Under the Trump Administration, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) conducted an extensive investigation and referred the violation to the DOJ, which then filed a lawsuit in federal court. But now under the Biden Administration and the leadership of Secretary Becerra, HHS withdrew its request, and the DOJ dropped the lawsuit without any settlement or restitution.

“Your handling of this case is a profound miscarriage of justice and a rejection of your commitment to enforce federal conscience laws for Americans of all religious beliefs and creeds—and especially for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who object to abortion,” wrote the Members in their letter. “Your actions signal to employers all around the country that they don’t need to comply with the law because your agencies will not enforce it. They also signal that this administration would rather allow consciences to be violated at the behest of the abortion lobby rather enforce the law and protect religious liberty. We demand a full explanation of your agencies’ actions.”

Lankford continues to lead the Senate in standing up for the conscience rights of all Americans. In 2018 Lankford supported the creation of the HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the OCR. Lankford introduced his Conscience Protection Act to protect health care providers and health insurers from government discrimination if they decline to participate in medical procedures, like abortion, that violate their consciences. This bill would also give health care providers a private right of action so that victims of abortion discrimination, like the nurse at UVMMC, can have their day in court even when the Obama and now Biden Administrations abandon their obligation to enforce the law. Lankford opposed Becerra to serve as HHS secretary in part because of his hostility toward conscience protections, including trying to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide contraception.

During Becerra’s confirmation hearings, Lankford pressed him on how he plans to protect Americans’ conscience rights and ensure faith-based entities receive fair treatment. Lankford questioned Becerra on why the department is working to eliminate the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the HHS OCR.

Joining Lankford, Cotton, and Harris in sending the letter are Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Steve Daines (R-MT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Rick Scott (R-FL),  John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Lee (R-UT), John Kennedy (R-LA), Jim Risch (R-ID), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Braun (R-IN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), John Thune (R-SD), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Also joining Lankford, Cotton, and Harris are Representatives Mike Rogers (R-AL), Barry Moore (R-AL), Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL), Paul Gosar, DDS (R-AZ), Debbie Lesko  (R-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Doug LaMalfa (R-AZ), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), John Rutherford (R-FL), Kat Cammack  (R-FL), W. Gregory Steube (R-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Scott Franklin (R-FL), Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), Jody Hice (R-GA), Andrew Clyde (R-GA), Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), Mike Bost (R-IL), Jim Banks (R-IN), Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Mariannette Miller-Meeks, MD (R-IA), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Michael Guest (R-MS), Billy Long (R-MO), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Ted Budd (R-NC), Gregory Murphy, M.D. (R-NC), Richard Hudson  (R-NC), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Jim Jordan  (R-OH), Robert E. Latta (R-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Kevin Hern (R-OK), Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), William Timmons (R-SC), Jeff Duncan  (R-SC), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Joe Wilson (R-SC), David Kustoff (R-TN), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Lance Gooden (R-TX), Jodey C. Arrington (R-TX), Pat Fallon (R-TX), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Randy Weber (R-TX), Pete Sessions  (R-TX), Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Ronny Jackson, MD (R-TX), Blake Moore (R-UT), Bob Good (R-VA), Ben Cline (R-VA), David McKinley (R-WV), Alex Mooney (R-WV), and Glenn Grothman (R-WI),

Additionally, the following groups support the letter: American Center for Law and Justice, Concerned Women for America LAC, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Family Policy Alliance, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Family Research Council, Americans United for Life, March for Life Action, Susan B. Anthony List, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Right to Life, American College of Pediatricians, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, Catholic Medical Association, Coptic Medical Association of North America, Alliance Defending Freedom, Religious Freedom Institute, and Heritage Action.

You can view the full text of the letter HERE and below.

Dear Attorney General Garland and Secretary Becerra,

We write to express our concerns with your coordinated decision to seek a voluntary dismissal in the lawsuit against the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) for knowingly, willfully, and repeatedly violating federal conscience-protection laws…. (Excerpts from U.S. James Lankford)

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