Originally published at the Dallas Morning News by Michael Marks on May 1, 2015
WASHINGTON — Former Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, slammed Rep. Will Hurd today for supporting a bill to repeal a District of Columbia law that would shield employees from discrimination related to reproductive health decisions.
The Republican-dominated House voted to repeal the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) last night, claiming that the law violates religious freedom.
The bill passed the House mostly along party lines, but the vote was largely symbolic since President Barack Obama has already issued a veto threat against it. Congress has the power to disapprove of new District of Columbia laws within certain guidelines, which can lead to the law’s repeal if the president agrees.
“Couples can make their own decisions on whether in vitro fertilization is right for them – and they shouldn’t need their bosses’ permission,” Gallego spokesman Anthony Gutierrez said in the statement.
“Unlike Congressman Hurd, who has shown himself to be a “more government” Republican, Pete Gallego knows how important procedures like in vitro fertilization can be – and how private this decision should be for families across the country,” Gutierrez said.
Hurd and Gallego will square off in a rematch for the District 23 seat, which covers a vast swath of West Texas from San Antonio to El Paso. One of the few competitive House races in Texas, Hurd beat Gallego by less than 2,500 votes in November. A month ago, Gallego announced that he would challenge Hurd to reclaim the seat in 2016.
Sen. Ted Cruz applauded the House’s vote, and urged the Senate to do the same. He filed a resolution to thwart the law in March, but the effort didn’t gain traction in the upper chamber.
One of Cruz’s main concerns was that “employers with religious objections to abortion…would be required to provide health insurance coverage for elective abortion.”
“Protecting citizens’ First Amendment rights should be a bipartisan goal, and I hope that the Republican majority in Congress seizes this opportunity to stand with religious liberty,” Cruz said in a written statement.