WASHINGTON — Conservatives said Sunday the flap surrounding President Barack Obama's birth control mandate was far from over, with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell saying he'll push to overturn the requirement because it was another example of government meddling.
White House chief of staff Jacob Lew shrugged off such remarks, declaring the issue resolved and new legislation unlikely. But the heated rhetoric from Republicans suggested the GOP would try to keep the debate alive in an election year to rally conservatives and seize upon voter frustration with big government.
"It's riddled with constitutional problems," McConnell said of Obama's broader health-care plan. "And this is what happens when the government tries to take over health care and tries to interfere with your religious beliefs."
Last week, Obama backed down on a mandate that religious-affiliated employers such as Catholic hospitals and colleges cover birth control in their health insurance plans. In a tweak of the rule, those employees would be offered free coverage directly from their health insurer. But employers would not provide or pay for it.
Lew defended the plan as the best possible compromise to provide women access to contraceptives and respect the religious freedoms of employers.
"We're going to go ahead and implement it," Lew said.