Politics

Reid under pressure to allow vote on military chaplains during shutdown

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

Republicans are pressuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow a vote on a resolution urging the military to let chaplains freely minister during the government shutdown, The Daily Caller has learned.

On Saturday, the House of Representatives passed a near unanimous resolution introduced by GOP Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia that urges the Secretary of Defense to permit military chaplains to still be able to “perform religious services and ministry” during the shutdown.

The Saturday vote came after the general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA warned that — under current law — some military priests could even face arrest if they celebrated mass or practiced their faith on military bases during the federal government shutdown.

The bill passed the House by a near-unanimous vote on Saturday — 400 to 1. The only person to vote against it was Rep. Bill Enyart, an Illinois Democrat.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, is making a push for the Senate to take up the bill. Speaking on the floor of the Senate on Monday, McConnell said: “Over the weekend, the House passed a bill that said a government shutdown doesn’t affect the Free Exercise of Religion on military bases — 184 Democrats agreed.”

It’s unclear whether Reid will get behind it. But a senior Republican aide told TheDC that it “would be outrageous for him to block” the effort, especially seeing how many House Democrats supported the measure over the weekend.

“Reid probably cares about military chaplains like he cares about helping kids with cancer,” the aide said. “Nobody is depending on him to actually help here, so Republicans are discussing options and will work to fix the problem.”

The House resolution states that Congress “recognizes that the performance of religious services and the provision of ministry are protected activities under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

The resolution “urges and intends that the Secretary of Defense permit the performance of religious services on property owned or maintained by the Department of Defense, during any lapse in appropriations, in the same manner and to the same extent as such religious services are otherwise available.”

Follow Alex on Twitter