Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 22, 2015

Birth Control Legislation Stalls in Senate

Women's Health

Udall, right, is a co-sponsor of the bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators blocked legislation Wednesday that would have required Hobby Lobby and other private employers with religious interests to pay for birth control.

The Senate rejected, by a 56-43 vote, the first procedural motion to advance the bill. Sixty votes were needed to limit debate on the motion to proceed. Republican members Susan Collins of Maine, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted with nearly all Democrats in favor of cloture.

Before the vote closed, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., switched his vote for procedural reasons.

The bill (S 2578) would upend a Supreme Court ruling last month in a case involving Hobby Lobby, in which they argued that they should not have to cover employees’ contraception, as required by President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, because of the owner’s religious beliefs. The Supreme Court agreed.

The measure, sponsored by Democrats Patty Murray of Washington and Mark Udall of Colorado, would prevent employers from refusing to cover contraception or any other type of health coverage guaranteed under federal law for their employees and dependents.

Republicans united in opposition, with some calling the legislation an attempt to restrict religious freedoms.

“In America, you shouldn’t be forced to choose between giving up your business for your faith or giving up your faith for your business,” Missouri Republican Roy Blunt said before the vote. “The government has no right – under the Constitution, under the political heritage of the country, under the things that this country was built to stand for – the government has no right to ask people to make that choice.”

GOP senators offered a competing proposal (S 2605) they said would clarify that employers cannot prohibit their employees from purchasing birth control. It also would ask the FDA to study whether contraceptives could be available without a prescription and allow women to set aside more money in special health savings accounts for out-of-pocket costs.

Democrats argued the ruling effectively gives corporations control over the medical decisions of their employees, who may not share their religious beliefs. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., reiterated the dissenting opinion from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said women are less likely to pursue certain forms of health care because of high costs.

“The issue here is not just access to that care. It’s the cost of that care,” Shaheen said. “And when you charge women more for contraception coverage, then you are denying them access to that care.”

  • rational38

    Great vote for political reasons.

    • Mary123s

      and that’s all it’s for. The Dems don’t care about rep rights ; otherwise they would not care about HL because they do provide 16/20 of the most used BC products incl the pill and spermicidal drugs.
      The Dems (which I am one) are desperate. There are no jobs, we are still in Afghanistan and Iraq plus involved with Libya and Syria, we are 17 trillion in debt and Obama just wants to play celebrity. So they are scaring women on some reproductive issues in a chance to keep the Senate.

      • rational38

        Huh? Obviously you are not a Democrat. The country is is very good shape compared to where we were and where other nations are. Be thankful we have a great president.

        • richard40

          The country and the world is in good shape??? Well I suppose we have not been attacked by nuclear weapons yet, so that is good.

          • rational38

            Did I say the world was in good shape?

          • richard40

            So obamas foreign policies have let the whole world go to crap, but the US is just fine. Of course:
            1. Our border is being flooded with illegal immigrants, so many that we cant even detain them for hearings and deportation (even the ones we catch, who know what has happened to the ones we don’t catch).
            2. Our health care system is being destroyed by the lies of obamacare (if you like your health plan you can keep it, if you like your doctor you can keep him).
            3. We have millions of people who have been out of a job so long they have given up looking for work.
            4. The national debt continues to grow at unsustainable levels.
            5. Growth is completely pathetic and has been for Obamas entire term.
            6. A list of corruption scandals so long we cant follow them all anymore.
            7. A president who seems to think the law is optional, and he can rule by decree.
            8. A president whose response to any new disastrous event seems to be (I see nothinggg, I hear nothinggg, I know nothing, but it is obviously their fault, where their is anybody but Obama)
            9. Our defenses are being gutted, just as the entire world is going to pot (as even you admitted).
            But other than that our nation is doing great. Yeah sure.

  • teapartyidiots

    Knew Kirk wanted to keep that 100% rating from Planned Parenthood for 2016. It nukes them being able to attack him on reproductive rights issues.

  • Bob Viering

    Apparently Sen. Blount cares nothing for the religious freedom of individuals who have to choose between their employer and their faith with respect to contraceptive coverage. But, as our Supreme Court has ruled, individual religious rights are secondary to corporate rights and the rights of the 1%. No surprise that Republicans bowed to their masters one more time and voted against the rights of individual Americans.

    • David Alexander

      Can you identify a single person anywhere who is (a) required by her faith to use birth control and (b) prevented from doing so by Hobby Lobby?

      • Bob Viering

        Many religions allow the type of birth control Hobby Lobby has now banned. Now those woman who have chosen the banned method must choose between what their religion allows and what Hobby Lobby had dictated as its choices. Limiting woman’s choices in contraception had no place in a free society. No one is remotely asking members of the Hobby Lobby ownership to use a form of birth control they don’t support but they feel the need to dictate to those that don’t agree with them. And conservatives preach about others trying to dictate how to live their lives…

        • OldNHMan

          The SCOTUS decision doesn’t ban anything. It says that privately and closely held companies cannot be compelled to pay for a form of contraception that runs counter to their religious beliefs, period. That does not mean that any female employee of HL cannot go out and pay for it herself. And of those four forms of birth control no longer covered, two are dirt cheap and two have an initial higher cost, but little if any follow on costs. HL is not going to tell their female employees “We’re going to fire you or penalize you if you use the four forms of birth control we won’t pay for,” but you act as if that’s exactly what will transpire.

          Let me ask you this somewhat related hypothetical question: Should a hospital or medical clinic run by a religious organization like the Catholic Church be forced to perform abortions even though it goes against their deeply held beliefs that abortion is murder? Or should they be forced to perform them anyway because of an adminsitrative law handed down by a government agency that tells them they have to?

        • pp91303

          Thank you for exhibiting the idiocy of the modern left.

          No one has been prevented from using any birth control they wish to use. Hobby Lobby is not dictating what kind of birth control their employees must use. History didn’t begin with the passage of Obamacare or the with the FDA approval of the morning after pill. Since its formation, Hobby Lobby wasn’t providing health insurance that covered the morning after pill and they aren’t now. The female employees are in exactly the same position they were in prior to leftists ramming Obamacare through congress.

          You probably aren’t so dumb that you don’t know that, you just know that the Democrat base is dumb enough to believe it.

        • richard40

          “Now those woman who have chosen the banned method must choose between what their religion allows and what Hobby Lobby had dictated as its choices. Limiting woman’s choices in contraception had no place in a free society.”
          Wrong again. The women have the same choices, but for some of them they cant force hobby obby to pay the bil for their choice. Only in leftie lala land is not being able to force somebody to pay the bill for my choice somehow denying me that choice.
          I want a new car, my employer wont pay to give it to me, how dare he deny my basic freedoms.

    • theBuckWheat

      It is one thing for propagandists to totally re-imagine an issue to advance their agenda. It is another thing entirely for otherwise smart people (and all liberals insist they are so smart they should be running our lives) to swallow and internalize such blatant lies and outright drivel. What silly fools they make of themselves!

      • Bob Viering

        Let’s see, before the Hobby Lobby decision their employees had more contraceptive choices now they have fewer. So who’s really telling people how to run their lives. Liberals believe people have a right to choose. Conservatives believe choices should be limited to their beliefs and believe their choices should be forced on everyone.

        • Steplightly

          Bob seems to think that if someone doesn’t PAY for your stuff you are being denied it. The choices are still there. They are not all free. Women have a lot of choices. They can choose to pay for those few items of birth control that the employer doesn’t want to pay for. They can choose to work elsewhere. NO one is forcing them to work at Hobby Lobby.

          If you work at a the grocery store and they don’t give you free milk, are you really being denied milk? OR is it that you just don’t want to drink milk that you have pay for yourself.

          • pp91303

            He is obviously pretty stupid, but most likely not that stupid. He just repeats the lie like all fascists because he knows how stupid the Democrat base is and he thinks they will believe it. It is best to ignore him.

          • Bob Viering

            But they do pay for that coverage, its part of their compensation package. Companies don’t give anything to their employees. Anything they receive is compensation that had been earned. It isn’t welfare.

          • Layla

            does your insurance pay for your condoms? These are the unnecessary expenses that drive costs up. What next…our tooth brushes, tooth paste?

        • pp91303

          Wrong. Hobby Lobby has never provided insurance coverage that included the morning after pill. The mandate only came into existence after the passage of Obamacare in 2010, so this issue didn’t even arise until four years ago. Hobby Lobby employees can buy morning after pills over the counter for a few dollars if they wish just as they were able to do prior to the enactment of Obamacare. Liberals want people with sincere objections to the morning after pill to be forced to pay for them on behalf of their employees.

          You are a fascist loser.

        • richard40

          Thw women have the same contraceptive choices as before, but for a few of them hobby lobby is no longer forced to pay the bill, against their religious beleifs.

        • Layla

          Can’t you come up with some new material? I can now recite the “party line” in my sleep…

  • rms1

    ““In America, you shouldn’t be forced to choose between giving up your business for your faith or giving up your faith for your business.” Wow. Talk about a straw man argument. “Your faith,” as Blount call it, has nothing to do with the medical decisions of others. Hopefully this comes back to politically haunt those who use “religious freedom” as an excuse for inhibiting the freedom of others.

    • mandinka

      You are out of tough with reality

      • David Alexander

        Really. Inhibiting their freedom? Is he serious? He does realize that Hobby Lobby’s employees can walk into any drugstore and buy any birth control they want? Doesn’t he?

        • richard40

          Most know, they are just repeating the standard lies, although perhaps some of them are stupid enough to beleive the standard lies.

      • Layla

        No, she is just pushing more entitlements on us all. Somebody grow a spine, stand up for personal responsibility. We’re all sick of the current state of entitlement in this country.

    • richard40

      Your faith however could have something to do with being forced to pay for the medical decisions of others, as you demand. These women can still buy whatever pills they want with their own money, so it is not about dictating what women do, but what the company is forced to pay for.

  • Pirini Scleroso

    The senate is broken….it is time to kick the filibuster to the curb.

    • RickHapp

      Please write back in 4 months when the Republicans take over the senate and tell us how consistent you are.

      • Pirini Scleroso

        I won’t have to. If Democrats were in the minority and used the filibuster with the gusto that Republicans have, the Republicans would have kicked it to the curb years ago…and I have no reason to believe they won’t if they manage to win the majority.

        • richard40

          You are wrong. The repubs, with senate majority senate control, considered it during bush, after dems had blocked a number of bush court appointments with filibusters, but a group of repub senators stopped them, so they did not do it. It took the dems and harry reid to kill the filibuster for nominations. But i do have no doubt that you will be hipocritical enough to oppose under a repub senate what you now demand under a dem one.

          • Pirini Scleroso

            Actually, I’m not wrong. There has never, in the history of the republic, been a president as obstructed as the current president. The “gang of 14″ you refer to was comprised of both Democrats and Republicans who worked together to bring 10 (remember this number, it is important) judicial nominees filibustered by the Democrats in the senate to a full senate vote. You see, 7 Democrats were willing to work across the aisle…as soon as the shoe was on the other foot (Democratic President, Democratic Senate), no Republicans could be found to work across the aisle to even allow a simple up or down vote…even as 82 (recall, the afore mentioned 10 nominees of Bush was of sufficient import that a number of Democrats reached across the aisle for the sake of the institution) of President Obama’s nominees have been blocked by McConnell and his gang.

          • richard40

            Ad I expect Reid could have gotten a similar deal with some of the usual senate repubs (probably the same ones that were on the gang of 14). but he did not even bother to offer, he just ended nominee filibusters by majority vote, something the repubs refused to do under bush.
            But frankly since pretty much everything Obama is doing is bad, I don’t particularly care if he is obstructed. Of course Reid obstructs things when he refuses to bring up good house legislation for a vote, but nobody ever mentions the obstructionist dem senate.

          • Pirini Scleroso

            You cannot be serious. The Gang of 14 disbanded in January 2009 with Obama’s inauguration…Reid “went nuclear” in 2013….that is four years of trying to work with the minority Republicans to no avail. Reid should have gone further and changed the senate rules for all business and not just Presidential nominees. Republicans have proven time and again that they don’t understand that “compromise” does not mean “my way or the highway”.

          • richard40

            The gang of 14 stop being an official gang, but many of the repubs in it, plus many other moderate repubs, probably would have been willing to work with them. But Obamas idea of working with people is “I won, you lost, get used to it”, which he said to McCain, a founding gang of 14 member, after he made some mild comments about some of the suspicious deals used to pass obamacare. You also don’t get much cooperation when every single one of your own failures gets blamed on the opposition, with no blame for himself, and you spend more time campaigning and attacking the opposition than you do governing or talking to prominent members of congress.

          • Pirini Scleroso

            More… By way of comparison, while Obama has had 82 of his judicial nominees denied an up or down vote over his 5+ years in office, prior to Obama’s presidency, there had been only 86 total judicial nominees denied an up or down vote by the senate. Now, that is only concentrating on the issue of judicial nominations (your chosen battle field), if you like to compare legislation, I’d be happy to educate you on that as well.

  • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

    “Senators blocked legislation Wednesday that would have required Hobby Lobby and other private employers with religious interests to pay for birth control.”
    Show a spine – and an appreciation for the facts
    Your lede, were it honest, would read:
    “Forty-three senators – all of them Conservatives – blocked legislation Wednesday that would have required Hobby Lobby and other private employers with religious interests to pay for birth control.

  • DaMav

    OFA says it’s all part of the Warren Women

    • Layla

      Warren women? The last thing America wants is to hear Elizabeth Warren harping at us all for the next 8 years. And that goes for poor, impoverished Hillary Clinton, too.

  • pitch1934

    The Supreme Corruptors have opened the gates. If the government cannot make you abide by laws that govern the populace because you “believe”, correctly or not, that they violate your rights to religious freedom, where does it end? Remember, some Muslims believe that you should stone adulterers. Will the Corruptors tell them NO? Will it be ganja at will? Corporations, unless they are run by a recognized religion, are not people and do not have freedom of religion. The mere thou ght is preposterous.

    • David Alexander

      Pitch, you couldn’t be more wrong on every count. The birth control mandate at issue was not in the law; it was a regulation added by H&W. If Congress had put it in the ACA, the decision would have been different (the Supremes would have had to decide based on the Constitutional issue.) As it is, the Supremes decided on the basis of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which it passed almost unanimously after the Supremes ruled, just as you argue, that laws against, IIRC, animal cruelty couldn’t be used to prevent animal sacrifices by Santeria practitioners. Second, your adulterer-stoning Muslims would be told no under RFRA. I won’t walk through the legal analysis; if you think otherwise, you haven’t read the law or the Hobby Lobby decision. Third, corporations are not “people” whoever runs them, but as a matter of federal law corporations are “persons,” and Congress used that word when it wrote RFRA. If Congress intends to limit a law to “natural persons” it knows how to do so.So the only issue before the Supremes was whether a corporation could hold “sincerely held religious beliefs.” And, frankly, that was an easy answer. Imagine Uncle Schlomo’s Kosher Deli, Inc., wholly owned by Schlomo Glickstein, a devout orthodox Jew. Would you require him to abide by a law that required all meat markets to carry bacon produced by local farmers? Of course not. And RFRA would provide this evil corporation protection even though it is not run by a recognized religion.

  • Terry Gail

    I’m very upset that Sen. Shaheen is denying me access to a Lamborghini, since I am required to pay for it.

  • roger

    It’s time to drive all fuzzy headed libs out of office.

  • Rick Caird

    The Democrats have been lying about the Hobby Lobby decision. All that decision says is Hobby Lobby is not required to provide drugs that perform abortions of fertilized eggs. Obama issued an EO to satisfy Stupak that abortions would not be a part of ObamaCare. Gee, what a surprise. Obama lied here, too.

    Nothing prevents a woman from purchasing that with her own money if she wishes. What is more the whole contraceptive requirement was not in ObamaCare legislation. It was added by Obama so he could create the whole “War on Women” meme. It is all a fraud from start to finish.

    • Layla

      Obama ALWAYS LIES.

  • Rob

    Once again, the Republicans with cooler heads save women from nazicrat temper tantrums, nazicrats spin the credit. Should this have cleared the House and passed, would Hobby Lobby have started paying for abortifacients?

    No. They would have withdrawn insurance altogether and paid the cheaper penalty instead, putting 10,000 women suddenly with no coverage AT ALL onto the exchanges to pay full price – if they can. All that, over 4 out of twenty affordable birth control methods which many HL employees don’t even need anymore.

    But yeah, conservatives are waging a “War on Women.” Psh.

  • RBT1

    Why do these Democrats hate women so much?

    • Layla

      Have you SEEN Democrat women? They’re always angry.

  • Federale

    Andyou can thank Hugh Hewitt for Mark Kirk. The First Amendment’s protections on religious freedom are going to be repealed because Hugh Hewitt supported Mark Kirk.

  • richard40

    “Democrats argued the ruling effectively gives corporations control over the medical decisions of their employees, who may not share their religious beliefs.”
    nonsense. My company health plan is fairly good, but it still does not pay for some things that I have to end up paying for myself. No corporation is dictating what birth control women use, they are just making decisions on what they want to pay for. Typical of dems though that not having the right to force somebody else to pay your bill, is supposed to be denying you the freedom to purchase the product yourself.

  • Layla

    Liberal women, listen to me…..NOBODY in America thinks we should pay for your birth control. Lose your sense of entitlement. And the last thing we will ever agree to is to give your control over our religious beliefs. Wars have been fought for less. This is a losing issue, especially with so many still losing homes, jobs and our borders wide open.

  • Oscar Mysterious

    The fierce conflict between civilization’s rigors and our primitive instincts is the source of many protests against liberty and free markets.

  • Gavrila Derzhavin

    The argument between the liberty school and the collectivists is not one about improvement, but rather about the best ways of doing so.

  • Joseph Biten

    Since liberty depends upon morality, liberty cannot survive where majority opinion favours the immoral plunder of some in the names of fairness, progress, and social justice for others.

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