Chairman Scott Applauds Biden Administration for Defending Civil Rights Protections

WASHINGTON – Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) released the following statement in response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) announcement that it is revoking previously issued waivers that allowed discrimination against prospective foster families with federal funding and reversing a Trump-era policy that improperly handed the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) broad authority to promote discrimination under the guise of religious liberty.  

“I applaud the Biden Administration for taking these important steps to defend Americans’ civil rights protections. Over the last two decades, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has been increasingly misused to justify taxpayer-funded discrimination under the guise of religious liberty. 

“RFRA has been misused by employers and colleges to deny employees and students access to birth control, it has been misapplied by taxpayer-funded agencies to deny LGBTQ parents and parents who were simply ‘the wrong religion’ the opportunity to serve as foster parents, and it has been abused by federal contractors to violate their employees’ basic civil rights protections.  No one should be denied access to taxpayer-funded services or jobs because of what they believe.

“The Trump Administration expanded and accelerated the abuse of religious freedom laws by giving HHS’ Office for Civil Rights broad and unprecedented authority to assist taxpayer-funded organizations that wish to engage in discrimination.

“By reversing the improper expansion of authority and revoking the waivers under the prior Administration, today’s announcement will ensure that the Biden Administration can continue to protect the freedom of religion without imposing religious beliefs on others or violating Americans’ civil rights.”

On May 12, 2021, Chairman Scott wrote to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to request that the Department quickly reverse the Trump Administration’s aggressive misuse of RFRA.


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