Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama's shift on the thorny issue of contraception insurance coverage announced last week was no compromise at all, congressional opponents said Wednesday.
The president is "using the strong arm of government to force all Americans to pay for drugs and procedures that may violate" their religious beliefs and rights, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, said during a Capitol Hill news conference.
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Fortenberry, who was flanked by more than a dozen mostly-Republican lawmakers, is the sponsor of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, which he said would protect the religious liberty and conscience rights of those who object to the Department of Health and Human Services' mandate to pay for contraceptive drugs and procedures. He said his legislation currently has 190 supporters in the House.
"These providers and other Americans are left with a choice: Follow your deeply-held beliefs and convictions, or obey President Obama. That's a false choice," said Fortenberry. "No American should be forced to choose between their faith and their job."
The lone Democrat at the event, Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Illinois, said all Obama offered was "a vague statement about who's going to pay for what."
"Nothing has really changed," Lipinski said. "It's nothing but a shell game."
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, said Obama's compromise is worse than his original Jan. 20 announcement mandating most employers to cover birth control in employee health care plans with no co-pays or deductibles.
"It [the compromise] will end up forcing religious institutions to pay for services indirectly that they will not pay for directly because it violates their firmly-held moral and religious beliefs," said Sensenbrenner.
President Barack Obama announced the accommodation Friday in the dispute over whether to require full contraception insurance coverage for female employees at religiously affiliated institutions.
Under the new plan, religiously affiliated universities and hospitals will not be forced to offer contraception coverage to their employees. Insurers will be required, however, to offer complete coverage free of charge to women who work at such institutions.
Female employees at churches themselves will have no guarantee of any contraception coverage - a continuation of current law.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops denounced Obama's compromise last week soon after the president's announcement, saying the proposal raises "serious moral concerns," according to a statement posted on its website.
Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, the only senator at Wednesday's press conference, said Obama's accommodation changed nothing.
"Everyone who has looked at the substance of that agrees it hasn't changed anything," Vitter said.
"To play some word game and say, 'No, the Feds aren't telling the entities what coverage they have to buy, they're simply telling the insurance company what coverage they have to provide,' doesn't change the reality," Vitter said.
Rep. Donald Manzullo, R-Illinois. said the fight is by no means over.
"We're ready to march with the cardinals, with the priests, with the bishops, with other clergy, and other people who deeply fear the fact that this is just another assault upon faith in our country," Manzullo said.
Fortenberry said he drafted his bill about a year ago, anticipating the new health care law would intrude upon Americans' rights to religious freedom and rights of conscious.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has not announced any timing for moving forward with Fortenberry's legislation, but has indicated that any legislation developed in the House would go through the Energy and Commerce Committee before the full House votes on it.
A Democratic Leadership aide told CNN a planned senate vote on the issue probably will not take place until after next week's recess.
– CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.