Message to NDAA Conferees: Protect Religious Liberty, Russell Amendment

Washington – According to reports, lawmakers are likely to remove language drafted by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) 67% from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The Russell Amendment simply “applies decades-old religious exemptions from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) to federal grants and contracts.” Heritage Action released the following statement from vice president Dan Holler:

“Even after enduring an electoral defeat, the Obama administration and its left-wing allies continue to use America’s military as a pawn to undermine religious liberty. The Russell Amendment simply reaffirms and reapplies longstanding federal protections of religious liberty. Republican conferees, including Chairmen John McCain (R-AZ) 51% and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) 55%, should not be intimidated by the Obama administration’s blatant attack on religious diversity. We should all fight to preserve the policies that have served our diverse nation well for more than half a century.”

The Heritage Foundation’s Melanie Israel outlines the path forward for the amendment, which was included in the House version of NDAA that ultimately passed by a comfortable margin (277 to 147):

“Though the outgoing administration has been eager to use executive action to discriminate against religious social service providers that interact with the government, President-elect Donald Trump has promised to defend religious liberty.

“As president, Trump can use executive authority to roll back the Obama administration’s abuse of executive authority.

“But executive orders alone are not sufficient: Ultimately, Americans need permanent protection from a hostile regulatory state. The incoming Congress should prioritize religious liberty and send Russell Amendment language to the president-elect’s desk, whether as an amendment to another bill or as stand-alone legislation.

“The amendment reflects the best of our traditions without taking anything away from anyone, and is a commonsense continuation of policy that has served our diverse society well since 1964.”