House panel to vote on bill repealing Obama contraception rule

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is working on a bill to roll back the Obama administration’s controversial birth-control mandate.

Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in a statement that the panel will vote “in the coming weeks” to repeal the new requirement — a move that will help keep the policy in the news and give Republicans more opportunities to attack a piece of Obama’s healthcare law they see as an encroachment on religious liberty.

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Upton said he met with administration officials when the policy was first proposed and urged them to take a different approach.

“I am deeply disappointed with the recent decision to ignore long-standing protections of religious conscience, and I plan to move quickly, working with my colleagues who share the commitment to the First Amendment, to advance legislation that restores the protections that are now imperiled,” Upton said in a statement.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to testify before the committee March 1. 

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a Wednesday floor speech vowed that the House would repeal the rule. White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday said the president is "sensitive" to concerns about the rule, and that the White House will work with those who have concerns before the rule is implemented in a year. 

The Catholic Church has been the main critic of the rule, which would require its hospitals, charities and universities to include birth control in their health insurance coverage.