WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Representative Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) led a bicameral letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, condemning HHS’s recent reversal of protections for faith-based adoption and foster care agencies.
“For decades, faith-based child welfare agencies have provided safe and loving homes for our nation’s children,” said Senator Scott. “Rather than celebrating that work, Secretary Becerra and President Biden’s recent steps will force many providers to choose between abandoning their religious beliefs or closing their doors. This is not only an attack on religious liberty—it’s also a disservice to the 400,000 children who depend on the work of these providers.”
“Faith-based child welfare agencies are doing incredible work throughout our nation and here in South Carolina, and it is unconscionable that government bureaucrats would seek to roadblock their efforts. By withdrawing non-discrimination waivers and cutting out the Office for Civil Rights’ authority to review religious freedom complaints, this appears to be a deliberate attempt by this Administration to devalue religious liberties, making them a mere footstool to elevate their far-left agenda. On behalf of countless faith-based agencies and the families they serve, I want to know exactly how HHS and Secretary Becerra have reached these alarming decisions, and what the Secretary intends to do to reaffirm and protect religious freedoms,” said Representative Norman.
“We find it disturbing that one day before it released its 2021 AFCARS report, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—with your express approval— announced the rescission of waivers that were previously granted to faith-based adoption and foster care agencies in Michigan, Texas, and South Carolina,” the members of Congress wrote in their letter. “As you know, rescinding the waivers puts providers in these states in the untenable position of choosing between serving children under the Title IV-E foster care program or operating in accordance with the tenets of their faith – the same faith that drives them to serve children in the first place. HHS should be welcoming child welfare providers, not excluding them. Children are too important to be pawns in political games.”
On November 18, HHS announced it was rescinding waivers previously issued to faith-based adoption and foster care agencies in South Carolina, Michigan, and Texas that allowed them to qualify for HHS grants while operating in accordance with their deeply-held religious beliefs. Additionally, the HHS announced it was moving to strip the Office for Civil Rights of its authority to enforce the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act and the religion clauses of the First Amendment.
Senator Scott and Representative Norman’s letter articulates that:
- Faith-based child welfare providers perform vital services for hundreds of thousands of children nationwide;
- Through its actions, the Biden administration is placing ideology over the interests of the law, children, and faith-based partners who only want to continue serving their communities; and
- HHS must explain how it reached the decision to rescind previously-granted waivers and strip the Office for Civil Rights of its existing authority.
Cosigners on the letter are Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), James E. Risch (R-Idaho), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).
Read the full letter here.