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Administration struggles to contain uproar


A PARNES, S BAKER

Source:
The Hill
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
2/8/2012

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ABSTRACTObama administration struggles to contain uproar over birth-control rule - The Hill's Healthwatch Follow @thehill Advanced Search Options » Home/News Senate House Administration Campaign Polls Business & Lobbying Sunday Talk Shows News by Subject Defense & Homeland Security Energy & Environment Healthcare Finance & Economy Technology Foreign Policy Labor Transportation & Infrastructure Campaign 2012 Business & Lobbying K Street Insiders Lobbying Contracts Lobbying Hires Lobbying Revenue Opinion Columnists Editorials Letters Op-Ed Weyants World Capital Living Gossip: In The Know Cover Stories Food & Drink Announcements Meet the Lawmaker Onward & Upward 20 Questions New Member of the Week Jobs Video The Washington Scene Home Party/Events Pictures Calendar Announcements In the Know Dining People Congress Pundits Briefing Room Twitter Room Hillicon Valley E2-Wire Ballot Box On The Money Healthwatch Floor Action Transportation GOP12 DEFCON Hill Home Senate House Administration Campaign Polls Business & Lobbying Sunday Talk Shows Blogs Congress Pundits Briefing Room Twitter Room Hillicon Valley E2-Wire Ballot Box On The Money Healthwatch Floor Action Transportation GOP12 DEFCON Hill Business & Lobbying K Street Insiders News by Subject Defense & Homeland Security Energy & Environment Finance & Economy Technology All News by Subject Opinion A.B. Stoddard Brent Budowsky Lanny Davis John Del Cecato Ben Goddard David Hill Cheri Jacobus David Keene Mark Mellman Dick Morris Markos Moulitsas (Kos) Robin Bronk Editorials Letters Op-Eds Juan Williams Judd Gregg Christian Heinze Karen Finney John Feehery Capital Living Gossip: In the Know Cover Stories Food & Drink Announcements New Member of the Week All Capital Living Social Washington Scene Video HillTube Resources Mobile Site iPhone Android iPad Election 2010 Lawmaker Ratings White Papers Classifieds Order Reprints Last 6 Issues Outside Links RSS Feeds Contact Us Advertise Reach Us Submitting Letters Submitting Op-eds Subscriptions   Obama administration struggles to contain uproar over birth-control rule By Amie Parnes and Sam Baker - 02/08/12 06:54 PM ET Tweet The White House struggled Wednesday to contain the growing uproar over its birth-control mandate, with Democrats peeling off one by one in what has become an increasingly divisive election-year controversy. Pressure to roll back the new contraception policy mounted quickly as the day wore on, driven by divisions among Democrats, mixed messages from President Obama’s advisers and a constant drumbeat from the GOP. “It’s becoming a thorny problem for the White House and it appears to only be getting worse,” said one Democratic strategist. “The politically astute move would be to modify this thing, and quick.” Asked if the administration should shift course, a former senior administration official said, “I don’t see how they couldn’t. It’s pretty bad.” With the consternation rising to a fever pitch, Republicans announced a plan to move a bill soon that would repeal the mandate. And prominent Democrats are breaking with the administration over the policy, which requires some religious organizations to cover contraception in their employees’ healthcare plans. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) and Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) urged the White House last week to broaden the exception for religious employers. Several of their Democratic colleagues have piled on since. RELATED ARTICLES Hatch: White House 'overtly hostile’ to some people of faith Santorum warns of French Revolution Ron Paul blasts Obama, GOP rivals on health mandates Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said Wednesday that the Health and Human Services Department “misstepped” in adopting the new policy. “I just don’t think this is a fight that should have been picked and I think it needs to be fixed,” Connolly said. “I have every confidence that the administration will do so.” Tim Kaine, a former Democratic National Committee chairman running for Senate in Virginia this year, also said the White House should revisit the rule’s exemptions for religious organizations. The current policy does not apply to churches, but institutions such as Catholic hospitals and universities have to comply. “I think the White House made a good decision in including a mandate for contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act insurance policy, but I think they made a bad decision in not allowing a broad enough religious-employer exemption,” Kaine said in a radio interview, according to a transcript provided by his campaign. Democrats who support the White House policy dug in Wednesday. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said there’s no need for the White House to adopt a wider religious exemption. Carving out churches and other strictly religious employers “was in itself a compromise,” she said, noting that eight states have contraception mandates without religious exemptions. Twenty-three pro-abortion-rights religious .......