The final tally was 51 to 48, on a motion to table an amendment that would allow employers to opt out of an ObamaCare rule mandating them to cover birth control under their health insurance plans. As expected, the vote broke down mainly on party lines:
Leading pro-life organizations called on the Senate to vote for the amendment to the mandate the Obama administration issued, but Democrats banded together against [R]epublicans to defeat it on a 51 to 48 margin by adopting a motion to table, or kill, it. …
The text of the Blunt Amendment consists of the language taken from the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (S. 1467, H.R. 1179). It would amend the Obama health care law (“ObamaCare”) to prevent the imposition of regulatory mandates that violate the religious or moral convictions of those who purchase or provide health insurance.
Needless to say, this isn’t a fight Catholic organizations are going to give up on so easily. If anything, this will probably help Republicans during the presidential election by increasing the opposition to ObamaCare. Obviously many Catholic organizations that initially supported the health care reform now have an incentive to support its repeal.
President Obama has backed himself into a corner on this issue. Now that the amendment was blocked in Congress, the pressure to take action will be shifted back to the White House. But the Obama campaign already came out unequivocally against the protections for religious employers, calling it an “anti-contraception agenda” in a fundraising email last night. If Obama backs down now, he risks backlash from the pro-choice groups he riled up over the issue. But that may pale in comparison to the anger he’ll get from religious organizations between now and November.