I believe my values are shared with most Mississippians. As a Southern Baptist, I am a strong supporter of Christian family values. I do not support gay marriage and believe in the traditional definition of marriage.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., joined a letter led by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, criticizing President Joseph R. Biden for implementing federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The senators argued the mandates, which lack precedent, threaten the jobs and livelihoods of millions of hardworking Americans without allowing for reasonable public input.
“The Executive Branch does not have the constitutional authority to take these invasive actions and your mandates will threaten the livelihoods, earned benefits, and financial health of untold numbers of hardworking Americans and their families. We strongly urge you to change course,” the senators wrote.
Also joining the letter were Senators Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Steve Daines, R-Mont., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
See the full letter text below.
Dear Mr. President,
We write to express our significant concerns regarding your expansive vaccine mandates on hardworking Americans. As you know, Executive Order 14042 requires employees of federal contractors and subcontractors to be vaccinated or face termination, and the forthcoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule forces private employers of over 100 employees to require their workers be vaccinated or tested weekly. The Executive Branch does not have the constitutional authority to take these invasive actions and your mandates will threaten the livelihoods, earned benefits, and financial health of untold numbers of hardworking Americans and their families. We strongly urge you to change course.
While the Supreme Court has upheld the ability of states to mandate vaccines during a pandemic, there is no precedent for the federal government to mandate vaccines for contractors, private employers, or individual Americans. Vaccines are important in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, however, the decision on whether or not to get vaccinated is a personal choice and should not be unilaterally decided by the President. These unconstitutional actions are not only unprecedented, but they are also a vast federal overreach into individual liberties, personal health decisions, and private enterprise.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely challenging for individuals, families, and businesses. The resulting economic uncertainty from various restrictive public health orders in 2020 could have destroyed the American economy, but Congress stepped in on a broad, bipartisan basis, providing trillions to support maintaining the employees of American businesses through actions like the Paycheck Protection Program, Employee Retention Tax Credits, and the Payroll Support Program for airline workers, among many others. This support saved the jobs of millions of hardworking Americans. Now, many of the direct beneficiaries of that federal aid may lose their jobs over your unlawful federal vaccine mandates at the same time we are trying to get workers off the sidelines and back into the workforce.
Firing hardworking Americans who choose not to get vaccinated not only undermines the significant work Congress and the Trump Administration did to save millions of jobs, it also exacerbates the workforce shortages employers are already facing. The disappointing economic data released by your own Administration outlines the serious nature of this issue. The demand for workers is strong, but there are simply not enough workers to fill positions. Forcing employers to terminate loyal employees who are willing to work when businesses are facing significant challenges in hiring—and after Congress has invested trillions to save their jobs—is nonsensical.
Your actions have put businesses and hardworking Americans in an unnecessary bind. Both your Executive Order and the OSHA rule disregard public input and instead use coercion to force implementation of the vaccine mandate. In particular, Executive Order 14402 side steps the public rulemaking process required under the Administrative Procedures Act in favor of using agency guidance. Similarly, OSHA is releasing an Emergency Temporary Standard, which bypasses the public process. Both mandates are an extreme abuse of power, and those who are most negatively impacted have not even been afforded an opportunity to provide comment.
Beyond sidestepping public input, the mandate on contractors does not include an option for testing in lieu of a vaccine, making it particularly onerous and discriminatory. Instead, businesses who receive federal contracts will be required to submit to an even higher standard than OSHA is expected to require for other private sector employers. In addition, neither mandate considers natural immunity.
We all want to put this pandemic behind us for the benefit of our health, our families, and our economy, but we cannot lose sight of the massive, negative impacts that your mandates will have on hardworking Americans and their families. We urge you to change course for the sake of hardworking Americans and their families.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., joined an amicus brief led by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Representative Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., in support of Coach Joe Kennedy in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. The brief asks the Supreme Court to review and reverse a lower court’s decision that allowed the coach to be fired for silently kneeling and praying after school football games he coached.
“Religious freedom is a principle enshrined in our country’s Bill of Rights,” Wicker said. “It is regrettable to see religious freedom ignored and a devout coach fired for practicing his sincerely-held beliefs. The Supreme Court should immediately reverse this decision and stand in defense of one of America’s most sacred traditions.”
Kennedy was head coach for the Bremerton High School junior varsity football team in Washington state. After each game he coached, Kennedy would wait until his players cleared the field, then he would kneel and silently pray. Bremerton High School sent Kennedy a letter demanding he stop praying after games. Kennedy’s contract with the school was subsequently not renewed, resulting in his termination.
The former coach filed a lawsuit against the school district, which a federal district court initially dismissed. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit argued Kennedy’s prayers were not protected by the Constitution because he was praying as a public employee. In 2019, Coach Kennedy asked the Supreme Court to review the case but the Court denied review of the case, with a concurring statement by four Justices requesting more information. After the decision, the case went back to the lower courts. In March 2021, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court’s decision that Kennedy’s silent, public prayers after football games violated the Establishment Clause, and the circuit court denied an appeal for review.
Read the full amicus brief here.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., this week joined U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, to urge Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to remove new tax penalties that would discourage marriage from Democrats’ current reconciliation package. The marriage penalty provisions are included the multi-trillion dollar tax and social spending legislation being written by congressional Democrats.
“Federal policy should be designed to foster strong marriages, which are the foundation of strong families and strong communities,” the senators wrote. “Unfortunately, despite its original rollout as part of the ‘American Families Plan,’ the current draft of the reconciliation bill takes an existing marriage penalty in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and makes it significantly worse.”
“We believe that marriage is a vital social good. It is misguided and unfair for the government to build bigger barriers for couples to marry,” the senators continued.
In addition to Wicker, Hyde-Smith, Romney, the letter was signed by 32 other senators including: Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., John Boozman, R-Ark., Richard Burr, R-N.C., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Bill Cassidy, M.D., R-La., Susan Collins, R-Maine, John Cornyn, R-Texas, Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., John Kennedy, R-La., James Lankford, R-Okla., Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Roger Marshall, M.D., R-Kan., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., R-Kansas, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Tim Scott, R-S.C., John Thune, R-S.D., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Todd Young, R-Ind.
Read the letter, which outlines a higher-tax scenario for married couples, here.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., along with U.S. Representatives Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., led Members of Congress in sending a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra criticizing HHS’s recent decisions to discontinue the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) nonpartisan Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board (EAB) and to restore taxpayer funding for federal researchers to obtain, use, and store the body parts of aborted children.
“Americans expect their tax money to be spent strategically, but at all times ethically,” the members of Congress wrote. “We are disturbed that your recent decisions violate this public trust and call into question your commitment to transparent government.”
HHS’s decisions throw into doubt whether federal safeguards and regulations on the use of human fetal tissue will be respected under the Biden Administration.
“Eliminating the EAB removes critical oversight and increases the likelihood that federally funded extramural projects may violate governing law and standing NIH polices with impunity,” they continued. “We urge you to restore the EAB, reinstate the NIH policy governing intramural research using human fetal tissue, and help rebuild public trust in the stewardship of American tax dollars.”
Wicker’s letter reflects widespread congressional intent to hold HHS accountable, with 36 Senators and 98 Representatives signing onto the letter.
“We ask that you demonstrate your commitment to transparency by restoring the Ethics Advisory Board, reinstituting policies that permit only ethically sourced HFT, and committing to humane research that does not violate the consciences of millions of American taxpayers,” they requested.
Read the full letter here or below:
Dear Secretary Becerra:
We write to express our dismay at the recent decisions to discontinue the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Human Fetal Tissue Ethics Advisory Board (EAB) and to reverse the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) policy prohibiting funding for intramural research using human fetal tissue (HFT). The EAB provided critical ethical review of extramural research grant applications and its removal will assuredly reduce accountability and transparency in the use of tax dollars for ethically fraught research. In addition, the recent decision to let federal researchers obtain, use, and store for intramural research the body parts of unborn children violently killed through abortion is deeply troubling. Americans deserve better stewardship of their tax dollars than research that exploits the remains of aborted infants.
The 2019 restrictions on HFT were instituted because of glaring abuses that came to light. For example, a careful review of an FDA contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) to procure “fresh human fetal tissue” for transplantation into mice raised serious doubts about whether federal standards were being met, resulting in HHS’s decision to cancel the contract. Further investigations and disclosures led HHS to discontinue intramural research projects that exploited the remains of unborn children and to convene the statutorily-defined Ethics Advisory Board to provide oversight and accountability for extramural HFT projects.
Recently published FOIA documents have brought to light sickening details of the FDA’s dealings with ABR before 2018, in which FDA employees routinely placed orders for eyeballs, livers, skin, brains, skulls, and sometimes fully-intact bodies of infants aborted in the second trimester. According to email and court records, ABR received up to $2,000 for whole infant bodies and was paid $12,000 for a series of shipments of harvested organs that were used to humanize mice in lab experiments. More recently, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) revealed that researchers grafted the scalps of aborted babies onto lab rats as part of research funded by grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
These revelations raise numerous questions about the safeguards the federal government has in place to protect taxpayer dollars from being used for unethical or illegal research purposes. Some of the concerns raised last year by the Ethics Advisory Board found substantial failings in extramural HFT proposals related to ensuring proper consent, adherence to NIH policy, questions of financial gain from the exchange of fetal tissue, and lack of scientific justification for using HFT over alternative tissue sources. In fact, the Board voted to recommend that the Secretary withhold funds for 13 of 14 proposals on account of serious ethical concerns.
Given these concerns, it is absolutely vital that NIH maintain adequate oversight of federally funded HFT projects. Eliminating the EAB removes critical oversight and increases the likelihood that federally funded extramural projects may violate governing law and standing NIH polices with impunity. We urge you to restore the EAB, reinstate the NIH policy governing intramural research using human fetal tissue, and help rebuild public trust in the stewardship of American tax dollars. We also request that you confirm to us whether or not federally prohibited abortion procedures or changes in procedures were employed in the procuring of human fetal tissue for use in research funded by NIAID grants.
In addition, we urge you to embrace more avenues for research that employ ethical, non-fetal alternatives. Adult stem cells, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, and umbilical cord blood cells have been used to create life-saving treatments for multiple diseases and conditions. Previous projects, including a $20 million funding opportunity in 2018 to move toward noncontroversial alternatives, have been well received and accepted by a broad majority of scientists. We request an audit of how these 2018 funds were distributed as well as information on your Department’s future plans to invest in ethical alternatives to human fetal tissue.
Americans expect their tax money to be spent strategically, but at all times ethically. We are disturbed that your recent decisions violate this public trust and call into question your commitment to transparent government. We ask that you demonstrate your commitment to transparency by restoring the Ethics Advisory Board, reinstituting policies that permit only ethically sourced HFT, and committing to humane research that does not violate the consciences of millions of American taxpayers.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your expeditious response.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., this week joined their colleagues in introducing the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act to protect child welfare providers from being discriminated against for acting in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs.
“Faith-based adoption and foster care providers do incredible work finding loving homes for our nation’s orphans,” Wicker said. “It is deeply disturbing that certain states are seeking to drive these providers out of the marketplace because of their religious and moral beliefs, leaving children to pay the price. This legislation would protect federally-funded child welfare providers from discrimination based on their beliefs, allowing them to continue serving children in need.”
“Our nation is entering into a precarious time when religious liberties can be so easily trampled,” Hyde-Smith said. “This reasonable legislation would protect child welfare providers, who hold fast to their religious beliefs or moral convictions. States that choose to discriminate against these workers would in turn be choosing to hurt overall services for all caregivers, children, and families.”
This legislation would prohibit federal, state, and local government agencies that receive federal adoption assistance funding from discriminating against child welfare service providers based on the providers’ unwillingness to take action contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs. This would include all agencies that receive funding under Part B (Child and Family Services) or Part E (Federal Payments for Foster Care, Prevention, and Permanency) of Title IV of the Social Security Act.
Wicker and Hyde-Smith joined Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C., in introducing the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, along with Senators Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Bill Cassidy, R-La., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Steve Daines, R-Mont., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., John Kennedy, R-La., James Lankford, R-Okla., Mike Lee, R-Utah, James Risch, R-Idaho, Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
Supporting organizations include the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Heritage Action, and the Family Research Council.
“Far too many children are waiting, right now, either for adoption or foster families. Our government must not stand in the way of those seeking to care for them. It is difficult to imagine a more important goal for child welfare policy than the goal of seeing vulnerable children who need a loving home be united with families committed to caring for them. Protecting the rights of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies only ensures that more children will have access to the love and support they so desperately need. This is precisely what the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act would do.” said Russell Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
U.S. Representative Mike Kelly, R-Penn., introduced companion legislation in the House.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today joined thousands of pro-life Americans online for the March for Life. He shared a recorded video message with participants in the annual event, which was hosted virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately, our country does not do enough to protect life,” Wicker said. “Unborn children are not afforded the full dignity and protection they deserve. Every year, thousands of Americans stand and march to give a voice to the voiceless and defend the unborn—and these efforts do not go unnoticed. Each one of you, by participating in today’s march, is helping change the course of our country.”
Senator Wicker has always served as a pro-life legislator, since his time serving in the Mississippi State Senate. Most recently, Wicker led 46 of his colleagues in the Senate in reintroducing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would ensure a permanent, government-wide prohibition on abortion funding.
View Senator Wicker’s full remarks here.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today released the following statement after voting to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court:
“I have never seen a more talented, more articulate nominee for the United States Supreme Court than I have in this new justice, Amy Coney Barrett.
“I think she will make us all proud. We have no idea the specific decisions that she will make, but I do know she was taught under the guidance of Justice Scalia, one of the great heroes of the Supreme Court. I think she will interpret the law as it is written by the legislative branch, and I think she will interpret the Constitution as it was written by our Founding Fathers.
“This is a very significant day. I could not be more delighted in the outcome, and I give my best wishes to Justice Barrett.”
Justice Barrett is the third justice to be confirmed to the Supreme Court during President Donald J. Trump’s presidency.
I am fortunate to have grown up in a home with two loving parents. They gave me the care, stability, and training I needed to succeed. But not every child is so fortunate. Across our country, and especially abroad, there are countless children who have no mom, no dad, no family, and no relatives to take them in and care for them. These children often reside in deplorable conditions, in orphanages, and as wards of the state.
Americans have always had a heart for these children. For decades, Americans have led the world in welcoming orphans from abroad into a forever family. As a result, there are more than 150,000 children adopted from foreign countries growing up in America today. These children and their adoptive families are examples of America at its best. Some of them are now part of my extended family; others go to church with Gayle and me.
Unfortunately, this great legacy of compassion is at risk. U.S. adoptions from foreign countries have sharply declined in recent years. In 2004, Americans adopted 23,000 children from foreign countries. Last year, that number fell below 3,000 – an 87 percent drop over 15 years. One reason for the decline is that some countries, like Russia, have shut their doors to adoptive parents. But the most troubling cause of the decline comes from within our own government.
State Department Is Biased Against Adoption
For years, the U.S. State Department and its adoption accrediting entity have been hostile to intercountry adoption. They have obstructed the adoption process with fees and red tape. And they have put crushing regulations on adoption-providing agencies, making it almost impossible to stay in business. The result has been devastating. Over the last year and a half, more than 30 adoption agencies have stopped providing intercountry adoptions, and some have had to shut down completely. Tragically, this means more orphans each year will remain in institutions rather than with a loving family.
These troubling developments can be traced to the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues. This office was created by Congress to promote international adoption, but under misguided leadership, it is doing the exact opposite. In 2018, for example, it directly intervened to prevent three well-respected adoption agencies from having their accreditation renewed. In 2019, it issued a public letter threatening the future of intercountry adoption. It even hosted a public forum last year that featured radically anti-adoption speakers.
The Office of Children’s Issues has managed to fly under the radar for years. I have raised my concerns with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and I hope he will take a close look at what has happened and restore this office to its pro-adoption mission. These bureaucrats need to be held accountable to the American people.
Congress Works to Restore Intercountry Adoption
In recent weeks, I have called on the Senate to investigate the Office of Children’s Issues and hold hearings to expose their misuse of authority. In addition, I have co-sponsored legislation requiring the State Department to give an account for their actions and explain how they are working to make intercountry adoption more feasible. The bill would also help prospective parents get the information they need to pursue adoption abroad. This legislation has passed the House and Senate unanimously and now awaits the President’s signature.
It is a shame that federal bureaucrats have gotten in the way of thousands of American families who are seeking to adopt. Their actions are out of step with congressional intent, American values, and basic morality. I am committed to making sure the government respects our great tradition of adoption and makes it easier, not harder, to welcome children in need.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., filed an amicus brief on behalf of 34 Senators supporting Capitol Hill Baptist Church’s lawsuit against the Mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser. Mayor Bowser has permitted and participated in several mass protests in recent months. However, the city’s COVID-19 regulations prohibit a religious gathering of more than 100 individuals outdoors. The Senators argue that the selective enforcement of the District’s rules violates the church’s First Amendment rights and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
The Senators argue in part, “Whether viewed as a matter of free speech, the freedom of assembly, or the free exercise of religion protected by the Constitution and RFRA, the result is the same: The Mayor’s discrimination against houses of worship rests on a mistaken, and unconstitutional, premise that one particular exercise of free speech—a church’s desire to gather together and worship their God—is subordinate to other First Amendment-protected activities. This Court should enforce the First Amendment’s promise of free speech for all by issuing a preliminary injunction to prevent the Mayor and the District of Columbia from prohibiting outdoor religious services that adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.”
In addition to Wicker, the amicus brief was signed by U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., John Thune, R-S.D., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., James E. Risch, R-Idaho, Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, John Boozman, R-Ark., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Rand Paul, R-Ky., Tim Scott, R-S.C., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Bill Cassidy, R-La., James Lankford, R-Okla., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Steve Daines, R-Mont., David Perdue, R-Ga., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Ben Sasse, R-Neb., John Kennedy, R-La., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Mike Braun, R-Ind., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.
Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) has been meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., every Sunday for over 142 years. The only previous interruption in Sunday worship was for three weeks in October 1918 during the Spanish flu. When Mayor Bowser issued her original order in March 2020 prohibiting large gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CHBC complied and discontinued worship services.
The Mayor’s order continues to ban outdoor church services of more than 100 people, regardless of social distancing and mask wearing. At the same time, the Mayor and the District have supported an array of outdoor protests and gatherings by various groups since June 2020.
In June 2020 and again in September, CHBC applied for a waiver of the 100-person limit in order to hold church services outdoors in the District. The District denied the application, stating that waivers for houses of worship were being categorically denied.
CHBC filed a complaint on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.
Click here for a PDF copy of the amicus brief.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today released the following statement after meeting with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald J. Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court:
“Judge Amy Coney Barrett is exceptionally qualified to be our nation’s newest Supreme Court Justice. Our meeting confirmed to me why so many of her former colleagues and students have praised her nomination. Judge Barrett was gracious, warm, and sharp, and she expressed a deep love for our country and our Constitution. I look forward to supporting her through the Senate’s confirmation process.”