NDAA Conferees Should Protect Religious Liberty, Russell Amendment

Washington – According to reports, the Obama administration is quietly signaling to congressional allies that the President may veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) if the conference report includes language drafted by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) 67% that 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:

“The Obama administration and its left-wing allies are engaged in yet another attempt to undermine religious liberty in America, and this time they’re using America’s military as pawns. The Russell Amendment simply reaffirms and reapplies longstanding federal protections of religious liberty. Chairmen John McCain (R-AZ) 51% and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) 55%, and other Republican conferees should not be intimidated by the Obama administration’s blatant attack on religious diversity; instead, they should fight to preserve the policies that have served our diverse nation well for more than half a century.

The Heritage Foundation’s Roger Severino and Melanie Israel explain that President Obama’s veiled veto “shows that the president wants absolute freedom to discriminate against religious social service providers that interact with the government—all because many religious organizations won’t endorse the LGBT cause.” They continue:

“The Russell Amendment was included in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act and passed by a comfortable margin (277 to 147) because it reflects the best of our traditions without taking away anything from anyone. Congress should not let the president’s veto threat get in the way of passing sound policy and the Russell Amendment is just that—a commonsense continuation of policy that has served our diverse society well since 1964.”