Some High-Profile Catholic Democrats Are Criticizing HHS Rule

Sens. Robert Casey and Joe Manchin, Rep. John Larson and Obama adviser Tim Kaine are breaking with the White House on the contraception controversy.

The Washington Post: Tim Kaine Splits With Obama On Birth Control Rule For Religious Groups
Former Virginia governor Timothy M. Kaine criticized the Obama administration’s new policy requiring some religious institutions to provide coverage for prescription contraceptives, a rare instance of disagreement between the Senate candidate and his close political ally. … “I think the White House made a good decision in including a mandate for contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act insurance policy, but I think they made a bad decision in not allowing a broad enough religious-employer exemption,” Kaine said, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by his campaign (Pershing, 2/9).

USA Today: Obama Mandate On Birth Control Coverage Stirs Controversy
Republican leaders have been joined by a few Democrats — such as Sens. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin of West Virginia and House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut — in calling for changes in the policy (Wolf and Grossman, 2/8).

Politico: John Larson to White House: Contraception Rule Needs More Work
Rep. John Larson, the House’s fourth-ranking Democrat, is raising concerns with the Obama administration about its requirement that certain religious-affiliated institutions cover contraceptives in their insurance plans even if it violates their religious beliefs. Larson joins a small but growing chorus of Democrats who have raised concerns about the decision, which congressional Republicans and religious groups say is a war on religious freedom (Haberkorn and Bresnahan, 2/8).

National Journal: Obama Facing Breaks From Base On Contraceptive Mandate
In the meantime, here’s a closer look at how members of the president’s own party running for the Senate in 2012 have been navigating the issue this week: Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine: The key Democratic break with Obama came from his close ally and former DNC chairman Tim Kaine, running for the Senate in a hotly-contested battleground. Kaine, whose Catholic devotion is a major part of his biography, said he favored additional religious exemptions for Catholic employers. … Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.: Casey, who opposes abortion rights, sent a letter to Obama last week urging him to “correct this decision” (Sullivan and Brennan, 2/9).

Politico: High-Profile Catholic Dems Bail On Obama On Contraceptives
President Barack Obama’s contraceptives edict has handed Republicans an election-year gift. But now, the president may have a problem with his own party, too. A handful of high-profile Catholic Democrats are bailing on the president and joining the GOP chorus of critics. They’re arguing that the rule needs to be significantly softened if not, as Republicans want, scrapped altogether. At this point, the Democratic defectors are few in number but tall in stature. They include two swing-state pols on the November ballot — Obama’s former DNC chairman, Tim Kaine, who’s running for Senate in Virginia, and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey — as well as House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Wong, 2/8).

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