To watch Rep. Black’s remarks on the House floor, click HERE or the image above
Washington, D.C. – Today the House of Representatives passed Congressman Diane Black’s (R-TN-06) legislation, the Conscience Protection Act, by a bipartisan vote of 245 – 182. The legislation amends the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) to prevent any federal state, or local government from penalizing or otherwise discriminating against a health care provider on the basis that the provider does not participate in abortion. Earlier today, Congressman Black spoke in support of the legislation on the House floor. To watch a video of her remarks, click here. A full transcript is provided below:
Madam Speaker, today I rise in strong support of my bill: S. 304, the Conscience Protection Act of 2016. This legislation would prevent governments from penalizing or in any way discriminating against a healthcare provider for refusing to participate in abortion.
In doing so, it would codify an act known as the Weldon Amendment, which has been attached to annual spending bills since 2004 with bipartisan support. But importantly, the bill would also take the law a step further; allowing for a civil right of action so that victims of abortion discrimination can have their day in court.
Today, if you believe you have been discriminated against on the basis of refusing to be involved in abortion, you appeal to the Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services.
In the case of Cathy Cenzon-Decarlo, a pro-life nurse from New York forced by her employer to assist in the abortion of a 22-week preborn baby, it took it took HHS three years to close its investigation into her case.
And in California, where the state Department of Managed Health Care required all insurance plans in the state to offer coverage of elective abortion, HHS took two years to determine that no violation of the law had occurred – this despite the fact that churches and Christian universities are now required to subsidize abortion through their insurance plans.
Congress must step in to clarify and strengthen our laws so that the conscience rights of every American are protected – because, Madam. Speaker, if we lose the right to live according to our own convictions, particularly on a matter as deeply affecting as abortion, we don’t have much left – do we?
After all, it was Thomas Jefferson who reminded us that “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”
President Obama himself echoed this statement in 2009, saying “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion.”
If my colleagues won’t listen to the pleas of pro-life Americans asking for protection of their most basic rights, maybe they will listen to the words of their own President.
With this bill, I’m not seeking to change anyone’s mind on abortion, though I hope I can one day.
I’m not asking my colleagues to rule anyone’s abortion illegal, though every act of abortion breaks my heart.
I’m not asking my colleagues to withhold a dime from a single abortion provider, although I will continue fighting to stop sending my constituents’ tax dollars to industries that take human life.
Today, I’m simply asking the members of this body to allow the millions of Americans who believe, as I do, in the sanctity of every life, to abide by those beliefs without having them trampled upon by their own government.
I urge a yes vote on this very compassionate, reasonable, and modest bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Background:Rep. Black Defends Conscience Protection Act at House Committee MeetingRep. Black’s Op-Ed in the Washington Examiner: Conscience Protection Act Protects Pro-Life Americans’ Freedom to Believe
Rep. Black speaks on the House floor earlier today against funding for sanctuary cities. To watch a video, click HERE or the image above.
Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), a registered nurse and member of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, presented her bill: the Conscience Protection Act, before a meeting of the House Rules Committee. The legislation is slated to be considered on the House floor tomorrow. To watch a video of Congressman Black’s remarks before the House Rules Committee, click here. A full transcript is provided below:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this urgently needed legislation.
It was our nation’s third President, Thomas Jefferson, who famously said: “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.
Being an American has always meant experiencing the freedom to live by the dictates of one’s deeply held beliefs at home, at work, and in the public square. After all, if we don’t have a right to abide by our own consciences – particularly on a matter as deeply affecting as abortion – we don’t have much left, do we?
President Obama himself acknowledged this time-honored freedom at a speech to students at Notre Dame University in 2009, saying: “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion.” Unfortunately, this right is not consistently enforced today, the President’s words notwithstanding.
In 2013, I first met Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo. She, like me, is a registered nurse. Back in 2009, she was forced by her hospital in New York to assist in the abortion of a 22-week preborn baby. The hospital knew her longstanding opposition to abortion, yet threatened her job and her nursing license if she did not take part.
A federal law, known as the Weldon-Amendment, which has been attached to annual appropriations bills since 2004 – bills that Democrats and Republicans on this committee voted for – protects people like Cathy, and any other healthcare entity refusing to provide, pay for, or perform abortions. But, when Cathy filed a complaint, it took the HHS office of civil rights three years to resolve it and affirm her right not to perform an abortion against her will.
While Cathy eventually found a resolution to her case, after her hospital agreed to change its policies, others were not as fortunate.
In August of 2014, the Department of Managed Healthcare in California issued a mandate requiring that all insurance plans under their authority, including those offered by churches and Christian universities, must include coverage for elective abortion. Churches and pro-life organizations across the state pleaded with the HHS office of civil rights to enforce the law and protect their conscience rights – but, after a nearly two year investigation, their requests were denied. Now, other states are following suit; New York being the latest state to enact an abortion mandate of its own.
Congress needs to act.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: We talk a lot about the supposed “right to choose” in matters of abortion. That’s a phrase that some of you on this committee use with great frequency. But what about the other right to choose – the right to choose not to be a forced partner in a practice that goes against everything you believe? That is what my bill would protect.
Many of you know me well, and you know that I wear my pro-life convictions on my sleeve. But take note: this legislation doesn’t change the legality of abortion in any way. It does not speak to matters of birth control and contraceptives. And it does not change doctors’ and hospitals’ responsibilities to pregnant women in life threatening situations.
This is a modest, reasonable bill to protect Americans’ conscience rights and provide a civil right of action so that victims can have their day in court when those rights are trampled.
I urge you to heed the words of President Jefferson – and, for that matter, President Obama – and pass this compassionate bill to ensure these most foundational rights are respected and upheld.
NOTE: To read Congressman Black’s op-ed published today in the Washington Examiner urging support for the Conscience Protection Act, click HERE.
Rep. Black speaks on the House floor earlier today against funding for sanctuary cities. To watch a video, click HERE or the image above.
Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), a member of the House Border Security Caucus and the recipient of an A+ lifetime rating from NumbersUSA, introduced H.R. 5654, the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act. The legislation would withhold key federal funding streams from sanctuary cities; jurisdictions that forbid their law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration officials. The bill is a companion to Senator Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) legislation of the same name. Congressman Black and Senator Toomey released the following statements:
“We all know that, for years now, Congress has ceded more and more power to the executive branch. But less talked about is the fact that, for just as long, Congress has also done the exact same thing with more than 200 rogue localities that willfully ignore federal immigration law. This is unconscionable. Sanctuary cities thumb their nose at Congress, they flout the law, and they endanger the lives of their own citizens. The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act will take a broad-based approach to cutting off funding for these jurisdictions and asserting Congress’s Constitutional role in setting immigration policy,” said Congressman Diane Black. “I have been fighting to combat sanctuary city policies since I first came to Congress in 2011, and I am proud to join Senator Pat Toomey in this effort today. It is appalling that Senate Democrats chose to play politics with public safety and block his bill from moving forward in their chamber. With today’s introduction in the House, we are providing a renewed opportunity to advance this needed solution. If Democrats in Congress won’t work with us to toughen our immigration laws, the least they can do is support this legislation to enforce the ones we already have.”
"I am pleased that Congressman Black and her colleagues have introduced companion legislation in the House that will protect our communities from violent criminals and suspected terrorists who are in the U.S. illegally. Despite receiving support from a bipartisan majority, my legislation was regrettably blocked in the Senate. We cannot give up the fight. The House introduction provides another opportunity to focus on this issue,” said Senator Pat Toomey. “Our proposal stands for the simple proposition that public safety matters. The lives of Kate Steinle and other innocent Americans matter. Protecting our neighborhoods from violent criminals and terrorists matters.”
Background: As a member of the House Border Security Caucus, Congressman Black has been a longtime leader in the fight for tough enforcement of federal immigration law. Weeks after being sworn in as a Member of Congress, she cosponsored the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act. She voted for the most recent iteration of the bill when it came to the House floor on July 23, 2015 (see roll call vote here) and has supported measures to combat sanctuary city policies throughout her time in Congress, earning her a rare A+ lifetime rating from the anti-amnesty group NumbersUSA. Black is the co-author of the SMART Border Act of 2015, which would mandate operational control of the U.S-Mexico border territory within one year of enactment, and earlier this year, participated in a site visit to the Rio Grande Valley sector of the southern border region. In May of this year, she introduced an amendment to withhold funding for sanctuary cities in the House Energy and Water Development appropriations bill. Congressman Black’s amendment passed by a voice vote, but the underlying bill was rejected for unrelated reasons.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Reps. Diane Black (R-TN-06) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), both members of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced H.R. 5652, the Access to Better Care Act of 2016 – a simple, bipartisan measure that would allow eligible high deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs) the option of providing pre-deductible coverage for medical management of chronic conditions or diseases. Black and Blumenauer released the following statements:
“As a nurse for over 40 years, improving our nation’s health care system by implementing common-sense policies that help promote patient-centered care is a top priority of mine in Congress,” said Congressman Black. “We are constantly looking for innovative policy solutions to lower the cost of health care without compromising its quality, and this legislation does just that. By removing regulatory barriers to medically necessary drugs or services, the Access to Better Care Act will empower Tennesseans to regularly manage chronic conditions, improve quality of life, and lower costs.”
“By expanding access to critical preventative care, we can help keep individuals with chronic conditions healthy and out of the emergency room,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “Our Access to Better Care Act will also lower out-of-pocket expenses for patients and encourage better value in our health care system.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of our nation’s health care costs. Studies show that increasing cost-sharing, even by just a few dollars, can discourage patients from taking highly valuable medicines for these chronic diseases, such as medications for heart disease or diabetes. Value-Based Insurance Design (V-BID) is a concept that embraces the simple, yet transformative idea that prices for prescription drugs and services can be constructed to motivate patients to better manage their conditions. This legislation seeks to incorporate the V-BID concept for HSA-eligible HDHPs, so that plans may have the option to provide first-dollar coverage for high-value, effective medical care that will prevent the onset of, further deterioration from, or complications associated with a chronic condition or disease.
This legislation has been endorsed by: AHIP, American Benefits Council, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, American Osteopathic Association, BlueCross BlueShield Association, Dr. Michael Chernew, Families USA, Merck, National Coalition on Health Care, Pfizer, Public Sector HealthCare Roundtable, The Smarter Health Care Coalition, University of Michigan Center for Value Based Insurance Design, West Health Institute.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), who recently tied as the most conservative woman in the House of Representatives for 2015 according to the American Conservative Union, has now been recognized by another major grassroots conservative organization for her commitment to individual liberty and free-market principles. FreedomWorks bestowed Congressman Black with its annual “FreedomFighter Award” based on her voting record in 2015. In its scorecard, FreedomWorks specifically cited Congressman Black’s votes to repeal Obamacare, repeal the death tax, oppose reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank, and oppose last December’s massive omnibus spending bill.
Congressman Black earned a score of 90 percent from FreedomWorks in 2015 and her 2016 score currently stands at a perfect 100 percent. Black released the following statement upon receiving the award:
“I have long appreciated FreedomWorks’ leadership in fighting back against big government policies – whether they are proposed by Democrats or Republicans – and in working to engage citizens in the major policy battles of our time. I am grateful to receive this award by such a respected organization within the conservative movement because it affirms that I match my rhetoric with my record. Any Member of Congress can give a conservative speech, but few have consistently voted to uphold conservative principles, even when it means voting opposite of party leadership. I am proud to be counted among that group,” said Congressman Diane Black.
FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon added, “FreedomWorks and our community of 5.7 million freedom-loving activists thank Rep. Black for her commitment to constitutionally limited government and pro-growth economic policies. There is a lot of work ahead to reduce regulatory burdens, enact fundamental tax reform, and cut spending, but we know that Rep. Black will be there fighting in the trenches for freedom with us.”
To learn more about FreedomWorks, click HERE.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), a registered nurse and member of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, responded to the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, nullifying a Texas law that required abortion facilities to submit to the same standards as ambulatory surgical standards (ASCs) and requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Black released the following statement:
“Today is a sad day for women and their unborn babies. With the drop of a gavel, five Supreme Court justices have endangered the safety of women who may seek an abortion and have ensured that more innocent, unborn lives will be lost in the process,” said Congressman Diane Black. “As a registered nurse, I know that there is ultimately no such thing as a safe abortion, but these modest standards work to reduce the risks of this already emotionally damaging procedure. The deep pockets of the big abortion industry may feel ‘burdened’ as a result of this compassionate law, but women are not – they are indeed safer as a result. This profoundly disappointing and cruel decision reinforces why the pro-life movement is more important than ever, and why the stakes are so high this November. Just as we worked for over a decade to overturn Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee vs. Sundquist in my state, we must now work to overturn this decision at the federal level and restore a culture where every child is welcomed in life and protected in law.”
Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, announced her support of House Republicans’ tax reform blueprint, the sixth and final plank of A Better Way. Black released the following statement:
“For more than five years now, I’ve traveled throughout my district speaking with families and businesses about the complexity and cronyism of our tax code. Tennesseans know that something has to change. With this blueprint, House Republicans are offering a path to a fairer, flatter, and simpler tax code that will grow our economy, create jobs, and expand opportunity,” said Congressman Diane Black. “This plan includes many of the conservative ideas I have long advocated for, such as repealing the death tax, enabling Americans to complete their taxes on a form as simple as a postcard, and lowering the unacceptably high corporate tax rate that has sent too many American jobs offshore. I am hopeful that, with a willing partner in the White House, these principles can guide us to the passage of a new tax law that respects hard work, empowers our small businesses, and wrenches power away from the IRS and into the hands of the American taxpayer.”
Note: This week, Congressman Black spoke about Republicans’ blueprints for health care reform and tax reform in the House Republican Conference’s “In the Know” video series. To watch Congressman Black’s video message, click HERE.
Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) released the following statement on the 4-4 Supreme Court ruling effectively blocking implementation of President Obama’s 2014 executive amnesty:
“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a victory for the rule of law and a clear rebuke to an arrogant Administration that disregarded the Constitutional separation of powers and thought it could get away with it,” said Congressman Diane Black. “For a former Constitutional law professor, President Obama has never understood basic civics. Perhaps that’s why, even before today’s ruling, this President had lost twice as many legal challenges as his predecessor. I am hopeful this Supreme Court decision will give President Obama the reality check needed to carry out his responsibilities under the Take Care Clause of the Constitution and stop pushing his amnesty agenda at the expense of the American people.”
Congressman Black continued, “I was proud to stand with the 26 states, including Tennessee, that brought this lawsuit by signing an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reach this decision. President Obama is many things, but a king isn’t one of them. We are a nation of laws and, as this decision affirms, he cannot rewrite those laws on a whim to fit his own wishes.”
To listen to Congressman Black’s interview on SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, click HERE or the image above
Gallatin, TN – Congressman Black recently joined host Ralph Bristol on Nashville’s SuperTalk 99.7 WTN for a conversation on the 2nd Amendment, the Orlando terrorist attack, and other news of the day. In the interview, Black explained the moment that the 2nd Amendment became personal to her; detailing the story of a time she was physically assaulted in Nashville and how she decided to get her handgun carry permit shortly thereafter.
As Black recalls, “I was assaulted by three young men. I was beat up, my cheekbone was broken, they ruptured a disk in my back, and they tried to get me into a car . . . I could’ve made that incident a lot less dangerous for me if I’d had a gun to take care of it. I now have a carry permit. I now feel safe because I am protecting myself. And you know what? I have a right to do that. I tell other people, I don’t want that right taken away from me. No one should have that right taken away from us. We’re given that right by the 2nd Amendment and we cannot allow that to be eroded by a bunch of people that don’t use common sense.”
During the conversation, Black also explained her opposition to so-called “assault weapons” bans. Rep. Black previously announced her opposition to the planned gun control votes in the U.S. Senate in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon, writing that “Anyone who thinks that another gun control law will thwart the will of a radical Islamist who is intent on taking innocent life is delusional.”
To listen to an excerpt of Rep. Black’s interview with Ralph Bristol, click here.
Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) released the following statement on reports that the U.S. Senate has agreed to hold a vote on gun control measures after a filibuster by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT):
“Anyone who thinks that another gun control law will thwart the will of a radical Islamist who is intent on taking innocent life is delusional,” said Congressman Diane Black. “As a firearm owner myself, I believe that instead of eroding the 2nd Amendment, we must expand these rights so that Americans are empowered to protect themselves from those who would do us harm. This means passing legislation like the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act, so that law abiding citizens can take their firearms with them wherever they may travel within the United States. It also means curtailing the use of so-called ‘gun free zones’ – which is exactly where this terrorist attack in Orlando occurred. My greatest wish in the wake of this atrocity is that an armed civilian bystander would have been able to apprehend this terrorist before he inflicted further harm, but under Florida state law, such a person would have been committing a crime themselves.”
Congressman Black continued, “The proposals slated to be considered in the Senate will only serve to deny Americans their right to due process and risk disarming citizens who have committed no crime. If such measures come before the House, I will vote against them. It is time our lawmakers read their Bill of Rights and took the words ‘shall not be infringed’ to heart.”
1531 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
As a nurse, small businesswoman and former educator, Congressman Diane Black brings a unique and dynamic perspective to her work in Congress. Diane’s faith in America’s promise was shaped from an early age. The middle daughter of working-class, Great Depression era parents, Diane saw firsthand their efforts to create a better life for their children through their pursuit of the American Dream.
First elected to Congress in 2010, Black represents Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District, which includes 19 counties in middle Tennessee. Black is driven by her Christian faith and an unwavering commitment to restore fiscal sanity in Washington, enact market-based health care reform, and return America to its founding principles of limited government and a strong free enterprise system.
Black serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and has quickly established herself as a leader in the efforts to fundamentally reform the U.S. tax code for the first time in over 25 years. Black is fighting for a flatter, fairer and simpler tax code to help create the conditions for economic growth, job creation, and higher wages for American workers. In the 113th Congress, Black was selected to chair the Ways and Means Education and Family Benefits Tax Reform Working Group.
Through her over 40 years of experience working in the health care field, Black learned first-hand about the importance of high-quality care and the obstacles faced by patients, health care providers and employers. Black’s real world experiences as a nurse have uniquely positioned her as a credible and effective leader on health care policy in Congress. She is focused on dismantling the president’s health care law and advancing true market-based, patient-centered reforms that will bring down the rising cost of care by increasing private sector competition and consumer choice. In the 112th Congress, Black was the first member of Congress to have legislation signed into law that repeals a health care provision in Obamacare, which saved taxpayers $13 billion dollars.
Black is also a member of the House Budget Committee, and a co-author of the 2014 Path to Prosperity budget, which balances the federal budget within ten years, reduces federal spending by $4.6 trillion, saves Medicare for future generations and promotes private sector economic growth. Black is a firm believer that getting America’s fiscal house in order also requires serious reforms of the broken Congressional Budget process. That is why she introduced the Legally Binding Budget Act, H.R. 1868, and has been a leading advocate for initiatives such as the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution and the No Budget, No Pay Act, H.R. 325, which withholds pay from Congress if an annual budget is not passed by the legal deadline.
Building off her work in the Tennessee legislature as a pro-life leader, Black has continued to fight for the rights of the unborn. Her first piece of legislation in the 113th Congress, H.R. 217, would block any Title X federal funding from going to organizations that perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. Black is also the sponsor of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, H.R. 940, legislation that would protect the religious freedom of health care providers who refuse to perform abortions and offers full exemption from the Health and Human Services (HHS) employee healthcare mandate that requires coverage for abortion inducing drugs.
Black and her husband of over 30 years, Dr. David Black have three grown children and six grandchildren. They live in Gallatin and attend Community Church in Hendersonville.
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It was a long time coming, but the court has spoken and all charges have been CLEARED for David Daleiden and The Center for Medical Progress
Had a great morning in Lebanon talking with Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation members about my work to stop EPA overreach, repeal the death tax,
Honored to meet with these high school students from #Hendersonville last week while they were in DC with Close Up - Washington D.C. Educational
No American should EVER be forced to perform, pay for, or refer abortions against their will, but, as it stands today, the conscience rights
I was honored to recently receive the 2015 Affordability Champion award from the Council for Affordable Health Coverage. As a registered nurse,