U.S. House Republicans seek to punish Citigroup over abortion feud

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WASHINGTON, April 5 (Reuters) - Dozens of U.S. House of Representatives Republicans on Tuesday demanded that the chamber drop Citigroup Inc as its provider of credit cards for lawmakers, after the financial institution offered to pay travel costs for employees seeking abortions.

The credit cards, issued to all 435 members of the House, are used to pay for airline flights, office supplies and other goods.

Texas and some other states have enacted new abortion restrictions and the U.S. Supreme Court has been weighing a challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision protecting nationwide access to abortion. Citigroup (C.N) was the first major U.S. bank to commit to covering workers' abortion-related costs. read more

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Abortion is a deeply divisive issue in the United States, and a key focus for both parties in the run-up to the Nov. 8 midterm elections that will determine control of Congress for 2023 and 2024.

"By choosing to underwrite travel to abortions for its employees, Citi has explicitly staked out its position to advance the liberal agenda of abortion on demand and has shown no regard for whether a particular state’s laws are in place to protect the safety of a woman and her child," Representative Mike Johnson and 44 fellow Republican colleagues wrote in a letter to the House's chief administrative officer, who oversees logistics issues like credit cards.

There are 209 Republicans in the 435-member House that is narrowly controlled by Democrats. Most Democrats in Congress support abortion rights.

The Republicans' demand was the latest sign that the political party, which for decades was closely aligned with corporate America, had become at odds with big business over disagreements on social issues. read more

A spokesperson for House Chief Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor was not immediately available for comment.

A Citigroup spokesperson declined to comment.

Another hot-button topic that has divided Republican officials and corporations is LGBTQ issues.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has embraced a feud with Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), whose Disney World complex is one of the state's major economic engines. The company is seeking repeal of a law DeSantis signed limiting discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools. read more

"Disney has alienated a lot of people now," he said at a press conference last week, threatening to revoke regulatory conditions that allow it to oversee its Orlando complex with little government intervention.

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Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone and David Gregorio

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