Below is a press release from Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith:
U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today joined 30 colleagues in pressuring Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to reverse recent unprecedented actions eliminating protections for faith-based adoption and foster care agencies.
The Senators sent a letter to Becerra that takes issue with his decision to rescind waivers previously issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to faith-based adoption and foster care agencies in South Carolina, Michigan, and Texas. The waivers allowed these agencies to qualify for HHS grants while operating in accordance with their religious beliefs.
“As you know, rescinding the waivers puts providers in these states in the untenable position of choosing between serving children under the Title IV-E foster care program or operating in accordance with the tenets of their faith – the same faith that drives them to serve children in the first place. HHS should be welcoming child welfare providers, not excluding them. Children are too important to be pawns in political games,” the Senators wrote.
“Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, your focus on reversing structural and individual religious freedom protections—protections which have worked well—demonstrate that you are placing ideology over the interests of the law, children, and faith-based partners who only want to continue serving their communities in peace. It is our hope that you will promptly correct these unprecedented actions and abide by your promises made to Congress,” the letter said.
In addition to rescinding the faith-based waivers, Becerra has also moved to strip the HHS Office for Civil Rights of its authority to enforce the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act and the religion clauses of the First Amendment.
U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) led the letter, which was also signed by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), James E. Risch (R-Idaho), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).
Read the letter to Becerra here.