The GOP’s ongoing push to allow employers to deny contraceptive — or any — health care coverage has Democrats in an amusing position: outraged that the Republican party has reignited the culture wars, and simultaneously salivating over what they believe is a deadly GOP political misstep.
In the days ahead, Senate Republicans, led by Missouri’s Roy Blunt, will vote on a controversial amendment to pending transportation legislation — one that would enshrine employers’ right to limit health care benefits for moral reasons.
On a conference call with reporters Friday morning, top Senate Democrats were of two minds: incensed that the GOP is pushing a non-germane issue so hard, and also ecstatic about it.
“We’ll hold this vote whenever the Republicans want,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), one of the Dems’ top political minds.
The GOP’s top leaders sense the danger, and would love to put this particular battle behind them. But they’ve lost control. So they’re standing by their argument that the Obama administration’s new health care regulation requiring most employers to provide contraceptive coverage to female employees is an intrusion on an employer right that’s been there all along.
Dems say that’s nonsense.
“It’s not the status quo,” Schumer said. “It’s a giant step backward the likes of which we haven’t seen certainly since 1965.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.