Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has weighed in on Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to strike down a District of Columbia law aimed at combating workplace discrimination, seemingly supporting Cruz’s effort.
Last week, the House voted to block the District’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act and the Texas Republican urged the Senate to take similar action . Paul appears to support the effort to block the law, which conservatives said could violate religious freedom. “Sen. Paul has always been strongly opposed to the government usurping the constitutional rights of American citizens, and will continue to fight to preserve our nation’s religious freedom,” a Paul spokesperson wrote in an email to CQ Roll Call Monday when asked about Cruz’s push for the Senate to act.
RHNDA, which took effect Saturday, prohibits discrimination against employees based on reproductive health decisions. Democrats and D.C. officials argued the law would protect employees’ right to make their own private health care decisions, while conservatives said the law could force employers to act contrary to their religious beliefs.
Another layer of the debate surrounding the act was a deference to local government. Democrats said Republicans, who typically laud state and local government and oppose federal interference, were being hypocritical for working to block a law passed by the D.C. Council and signed by Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser. But Republicans argued that, while they support local governance, no local jurisdiction should pass laws potentially violating the Constitution.
As with any D.C. law, RHNDA was transmitted to Congress for a 30-day review process, during which time Congress can formally block a D.C. law by passing a joint resolution of disapproval, which must also be signed by the president. The House passed its resolution of disapproval just over 24 hours before the review period ended, when the Senate had already left town. Cruz introduced a similar measure in the Senate in March, but it was not taken up by the committee with jurisdiction over D.C.
Paul is also no stranger to D.C. affairs. He attempted unsuccessfully to overturn D.C. gun laws in the 113th Congress. But he supported the District’s effort to legalize possession and cultivation of marijuana last November, on the principle of federalism.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.
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