Sen. Hatch: ‘Deeply troubled’ by Obama’s veto threat of defense bill

Image composite, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, reacted this week to reports that President Obama is planning to veto the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 if its final version includes a religious freedom amendment.

Hatch released the following statement:

“I’m deeply troubled by reports that President Obama is threatening to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) because he opposes a provision protecting the religious liberty of federal contractors.

These protections have been the law of the land for decades and ensure that religiously affiliated organizations are not forced to surrender their religious identity when they enter into agreements with the federal government.

Just because a Catholic charity, for example, decides to do work for the federal government should not mean the charity must begin hiring individuals who do not share the charity’s religious mission.

It is deeply disturbing that President Obama would threaten a veto over what had, until now, been settled law on religious liberty.”

Hatch is the senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and author of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

According to a report in the Miami Herald, Democratic opponents want a House-Senate conference committee to strip a religious liberties amendment from the final version of the bill, saying the amendment would allow federal defense contractors to discriminate against gays and lesbians by not doing business with them.

Hatch said the provision at issue, called the “Russell Amendment” after Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., affirms that existing religious liberty exemptions in federal law – namely, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act – apply to federal contractors and grant recipients.

The provision is intended to clarify ambiguity that arose when President Obama added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that federal contractors may not take into account when making employment decisions.

Specifically, the provision would make clear that religiously affiliated organizations that enter into agreements with the federal government may continue to give preference in hiring and employment decisions to individuals who follow the organization’s religious beliefs.

The provision is limited in scope. Hatch states:

Contrary to claims of opponents, it does not authorize discrimination in the delivery of services or allow any contractor who so wishes to make hiring decisions on the basis of religious beliefs.

Rather, it affects only employment practices such as recruitment or hiring and is limited to religiously affiliated corporations, associations, educational institutions, and societies, in conformance with current federal law.

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9 Comments

  • .... November 3, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    I will be speaking with the president and Mr Hatch 2 work this out. God Bless America !

  • dhamilton2002 November 3, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    Maybe Hatch should join the real world and worry about more important things.

    • .... November 4, 2016 at 8:18 am

      LOL !. good idea maybe Bob and Real Life could join him. HA HA HA HA that’s some funny stuff right there !

  • Henry November 4, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Hopefully the Congressional Republicans develop a backbone and call Obama’s bluff. If he vetoes the bill, it can be left for the next President; DOD can operate under a continuing resolution in the meantime.

  • theone November 4, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Here we go again, poor persecuted Christians blah blah blah. That provision is unconstitutional and needs to be removed. I don’t want my tax dollars being used for some organization religious or otherwise to discriminate. Enter a contract funded by taxes, you automatically agree to the Separation of Church and State. So sick of the religious nonsense being pushed on us from all sides. Believe as you wish, but keep it to yourself, we’re not a Christian nation and our government is supposed to be secular while governing.

  • hiker75 November 4, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Okay. So the defense budget is only for the military. I cannot believe how much money is spent. It does not include the alphabet parts of the government like FBI, CIA, etc.

    The chart in this link shows how U.S. defense spending dwarfs the rest of the world. It costs more to get your money’s worth in the US because of the bureaucracy. Maybe they should focus on being more efficient.

    https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/files/2016/02/MilitaryBalance2015b1.jpg&w=480

    Should have purchased defense stock years ago.

    • theone November 4, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      I bought a few hundred shares of Sturm Ruger & co. inc. just before Obama was elected at $7 and some change per share, it’s now $62. I played off the fears of right wing scare tactics. Thanks right wing nuts.

      • Henry November 4, 2016 at 6:42 pm

        A smart progressive like you should have bought stock in a left wing company like Starbucks. While dispensing over-priced coffee in cups emblazoned with PC quotes, Starbucks went from $16 a share in late 2010 to $56 this past July. And Starbucks has provided employment as baristas for thousands of people who can’t find a better job in the Obama economy. LOL

  • Curtis November 4, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    An example of how the policy of the Federal Civil Rights Commission will work. The Commission had decided that in any conflict between a religious belief and a civil right the civil right will prevail.

    Oh, and by the way the Civil Rights Commission will decide what is a civil right.

    Of course, the Catholic charity could simply decide not to contract with the Fed govt.

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