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Congress: Holy war

“House Speaker John Boehner yesterday blasted President Obama for waging an ‘unambiguous attack on religious freedom’ by requiring schools and hospitals affiliated with religious groups to provide workers with free birth control,” The New York Post writes, calling it Boehner’s ‘holy war’ in its headline.

Roll Call calls it the “New Chapter in Culture Wars.” “GOP leaders Wednesday launched a coordinated assault on the Obama administration's controversial birth control rule, accusing the White House of trampling on religious freedoms and vowing to overturn the new rule,” it writes, adding, “By late in the day, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton said he would "probably have something tomorrow" to introduce in the House, but he noted he was continuing to work on his legislation.”

More: “The barrage of Republicans attacks appeared to catch Democrats off guard; Senate Democrats were holding their annual retreat at Nationals Park while House Democrats were initially slow to respond. … A few Democrats swung into action by late afternoon, including a handful of female Senators who left the retreat early to denounce the GOP attacks. ‘Attacks on women's rights never come without being disguised as something else,’ Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) said at a hastily called press conference with Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.). ‘Women in this country are tired of being treated like a political kickball by [Republicans] who have tried continually — and are continuing to try — to take away their benefits, to take away their rights,’ Boxer said.”

“As talks stalled Wednesday, Members of Congress on the payroll tax cut conference committee began to acknowledge that negotiations might have to go behind closed doors for any real work to get done,” Roll Call writes.