Several Senate Republicans called Friday for dropping Citibank as the Senate’s credit-card provider, citing the company’s decision to pay for employees to travel out of state to obtain abortions.
Sen. Steve Daines, Idaho Republican who chairs the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, led a letter asking Sergeant-at-Arms Karen Gibson to “immediately terminate the U.S. Senate’s existing contracts with Citi and refrain from entering into any new contractual agreements with Citi.”
“Citi’s decision to finance abortion tourism for its employees, in brazen circumvention of state law, shows a reckless disregard for the lives of preborn children and disdain for the will of the people of the states in which Citi acts as an employer,” said the letter.
Citigroup, the nation’s fourth-largest bank, unveiled the policy in a March 15 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“In response to changes in reproductive health care laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources,” said the filing.
Senate Republicans pointed to the longstanding federal policy against using public funds to cover abortion costs, also known as the Hyde Amendment.
“Consistent with nearly five decades of federal policy against using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, taxpayer dollars used by the U.S. Senate should not be administered through a company that facilitates abortion on demand and promotes a woke, pro-abortion agenda,” said the letter.
The sergeant-at-arms furnishes Citi credit cards to Senate members, officers, leadership and committees “to pay for flights, office supplies, and other goods using taxpayer funds,” the letter said.
Since 2014, more than a dozen states have passed so-called heartbeat bills, which ban most abortions after a heartbeat can be detected in utero or about six to eight weeks gestation. Nearly all have been blocked or struck down, but Texas’ law signed last year has so far passed legal muster.
Citigroup made its filing a few days after the Texas Supreme Court upheld the law, prompting state land commissioner George P. Bush to blast the company for what he called “nothing but a PR stunt.”
Citi CEO Jane Fraser commented on the policy Tuesday in response to a question at the annual stockholders’ meeting held virtually, according to Citi Public Affairs.
“We know this is a subject that people feel passionate about,” she said. “I want to be clear that this benefit isn’t intended to be a statement about a very sensitive issue. What we did here was follow our past practices.”
Ms. Fraser said the company has “covered reproductive healthcare benefits for over 20 years. And our practice has also been to make sure our employees have the same health coverage, no matter where in the U.S. they live.”
“So, to that end, we’ve had a practice of reimbursing travel for many years,” she said. “We respect everyone’s views on this subject.”
The Daines letter was signed by Republican Sens. Roger Marshall of Kansas, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Marco Rubio of Florida, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Mike Braun of Indiana, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Rick Scott of Florida and James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Credit cards that promote so-called “woke” policies and organizations have recently drawn scrutiny from the right.
Earlier this week, a group of GOP strategists launched the Coign credit card, which seeks to support conservative causes in its charitable giving.