Democratic Senators’ attempt to nullify the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby and force religious employers to pay for every type of contraceptive coverage required by Obamacare failed to pass a cloture vote Wednesday.
The bill, introduced by Democratic Senators Patty Murray and Mark Udall, failed to pass a vote Wednesday afternoon, as expected. The Senate voted 56-43 against invoking cloture on the legislation.
The bill would have effectively annulled the Supreme Court ruling by making it impossible for employers to claim exemption from Obamacare’s full contraceptive mandate through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Mark Kirk voted to advance the bill, but it still failed to attract the 60 votes needed to move forward.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby several weeks ago, deciding that Obamacare’s birth control mandate violates closely held companies’ religious freedom under Congress’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Hobby Lobby’s owners, who provide employees 16 of 20 types of birth control required by the Obamacare mandate, were religiously opposed to several types of emergency contraception.
Republicans decried Senate Democrats for attempting to force a bill that would curtail the religious freedom of religious employers.
“The majority has put their finger to the political wind and all they want is a show vote,” said Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch. “It’s the first freedom mentioned in the Bill of Rights — you’d think everyone here would be on the side of upholding it.”
Majority Leader Harry Reid charged that Republicans are impeding women’s access to health care.
“We cannot allow Congressional Republicans or five men on the Supreme Court to reverse measures that have improved women’s access to affordable health care, including contraception,” Reid said in a statement after the vote.
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer also claimed after the failed vote that the Supreme Court’s decision that employers don’t have to buy employees all types of contraception blocked health care for women.
Even liberal commentators have hit Democrats for inaccurate statements about the Hobby Lobby ruling. The Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler has dinged Hillary Clinton, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and a host of other top Democrats for suggesting the Hobby Lobby ruling made certain types of contraception illegal.
Republican Senators are introducing their own rival legislation this week, which will simply affirm that employers are not allowed to block employees from obtaining legal, FDA-approved contraceptives.
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