Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse hammered President Joe Biden’s nominee Xavier Beccara Wednesday for “bullying” the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Sasse tore into the HHS nominee over his longstanding legal battles with the Little Sisters of the Poor during Wednesday’s confirmation hearing. The Nebraska Republican reminded Becerra that he said earlier Wednesday that he never sued the nuns.
Sasse called this “a pretty interesting way of reframing your bullying.”
“You had actually sued the government, who had given an exemption to the nuns,” Sasse said. “Can you explain to us what the Little Sisters of the Poor were doing wrong?”
“My actions were against the federal government,” Becerra said. “We never alleged that the Little Sisters of the Poor did anything. Our problem was that the federal government was not abiding by the law as we saw it, and what we did is we took action against the federal government so California could administer its program to make sure that the Affordable Care Act continued.”
Their discussion centered around Becerra’s 2017 lawsuit against the Trump administration that sought to reimpose an Obama-era mandate forcing insurance providers to provide contraceptives. The Catholic Little Sisters of the Poor had fought the mandate, resulting in a lawsuit by the state of California.
The lawsuit is currently under consideration by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Becerra is listed as counsel in the 9th circuit ruling.
The mandate required that the nuns include cost-free coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives, and some abortion drugs in employer health plans, the Catholic News Agency reported. The nuns had said that the mandate violated their religious beliefs since the Catholic Church teaches that abortion and contraception are gravely immoral.
Sasse repeatedly asked Becerra what the nuns were doing that made it impossible to administer the program, telling the HHS nominee that his replies were “nonsense.”
Becerra repeatedly told the senator that “our action was against the federal government.”
“What did the federal government do?” Sasse asked him. “It was about the nuns.”
“You say you didn’t sue the nuns,” Sasse continued. “You sued the federal government that was keeping you from making sure that the nuns had to buy contraceptive insurance. Were the nuns going to get pregnant?”
Becerra said that he was defending the actions of California and “the laws that were in place.”
“When the federal government took action that we thought was unlawful, we took action to protect the people of California,” he said.
“So again, a whole bunch of words,” Sasse responded. “But you know well, you’re an incredibly smart man, you know well that what the federal government did was make sure that you couldn’t target the nuns. So, you sued the federal government because the federal government said the nuns didn’t have to buy contraceptive insurance.”