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The Biden-Becerra Budget: Equity Is In, Religious Freedom Is Out

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Xavier Becerra at his Senate Finance Committee nomination hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., February 24, 2021 (Greg Nash/Reuters) What we can expect from America’s first woke budget.

On the Friday before Memorial Day, President Biden quietly released his budget for the fiscal year 2022,  clearly hoping people’s attention would be anywhere but on his plans for America. I am not here referring to the billions upon billions of wasteful spending he is proposing, but to something more pernicious — the rise of the “woke” budget and how it seeks to transform this country.

A word search of the president’s 33-page budget narrative reveals his administration’s priorities. It mentions “equity” and its variations 49 times, while a variant of the now passe’ term “equality” is mentioned just once, and probably by accident. Gobs of other intersectional buzzwords are layered throughout, with women/gender, race/racial, people of color, minority, black, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Native American, sexual orientation, and transgender/gender identity appearing a whopping 90 times combined.

Conspicuously missing from Biden’s equity list, however, is any mention of conscience or religious liberty. By contrast, the Trump administration’s budgets put these issues front and center, as they should be. (See Amend. I, U.S. Const.).

As director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under President Trump, I founded the nation’s first Conscience and Religious Freedom Division to ensure these fundamental rights would never again be treated as second-class rights. Here is a sampling of the division’s accomplishments that are now at risk:

Securing a $200 million disallowance of Medicaid funds from California, the first such disallowance in history, after the state required an order of nuns to purchase abortion insurance. (Yes, nuns.) Holding California in violation of the Weldon Amendment for attempting to force pro-life pregnancy-resource centers — which give pregnant mothers life-affirming options — to refer for state-funded abortions. Issuing landmark regulations to provide proper enforcement tools for approximately two dozen conscience-protection statutes in existence for decades but underenforced. Holding the University of Vermont Medical Center in violation

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