House to vote on disapproving DC's reproductive health law
© Anne Wernikoff

The House plans to vote Friday on a resolution disapproving of the District of Columbia's law preventing employment discrimination based on reproductive health decisions.

Congress has the power to stop laws passed by the D.C. council, but it must have the support of both chambers and the president's signature.

Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonSenate to hold hearing on DC statehood bill Shakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' Constitutional scholars say congressional proclamation could make DC a state MORE (D-D.C.), the District's non-voting representative in Congress, blasted the House GOP Wednesday for allowing a floor vote on the measure. She warned that D.C. workers could be fired for having abortions after being raped, or even for buying birth control.


"Although their bill so grossly violates the privacy and the reproductive rights of employees in the District of Columbia that it should be inconceivable that they would bring it to the floor of the House of Representatives, House Republicans are set on continuing their war on women, especially the women of the District of Columbia," Norton said in a statement.

Earlier Wednesday, the conservative House Freedom Caucus urged the GOP leadership to bring the resolution to the floor. Conservative lawmakers have expressed concern that the law would force religious employers to cover abortions in their health insurance plans.

"The House Freedom Caucus urges Republican leadership to allow the House to consider H. J. Res. 43, a resolution to disapprove of the District of Columbia Council's recently-passed Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act of 2014 (RHNDA), as soon as possible this week before the law goes into effect," the Freedom Caucus members said in a joint statement.

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) introduced the disapproval resolution in the House, while 2016 GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has introduced a companion measure in the Senate.

The Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group of House conservatives that is not quite as far to the right as the Freedom Caucus, also played a role in pushing leadership to schedule a floor vote on the disapproval resolution.

RSC Chairman Bill Flores (R-Texas) had initially organized lawmakers to speak on the floor later Wednesday to call for a vote before leadership informed him of this week's plan, according to an RSC aide.

"This is not about one city, but rather about preserving the First Amendment right to religious liberty for all Americans," Flores said in a statement.

Norton slammed GOP lawmakers who don't represent D.C. for introducing bills affecting her constituents.

"Not only does this disapproval resolution violate the private health decisions of employees in D.C., it violates the local democratic rights of 650,000 District residents by overturning a local law that matches our citizens' local interests," Norton said.

The D.C. law protects employees, as well as their dependents and spouses, from discrimination based on reproductive health decisions.

Passage of the disapproval resolution beyond the House remains an uphill climb for Republicans. While the GOP has a majority in the Senate, it likely could not overcome a Democratic filibuster. Moreover, President Obama would almost certainly veto the measure.

The House is also slated to vote Friday on the budget conference agreement that reconciles the House and Senate GOP spending resolutions, according to a leadership aide.

This story was updated at 5:51 p.m.