Following the Senate’s narrow defeat of the Blunt Amendment last week, coupled with the public revulsion towards Rush Limbaugh’s misogyny, Republican leaders in Congress had just about had enough with the fight over contraception. But as the GOP is finding, sometimes it’s tough for a party to pick a fight, then walk away from it.
Rank-and-file House Republicans still want a vote on their own version of the Blunt Amendment, called the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” championed by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R) of Nebraska. Most of the House GOP is already co-sponsoring the bill, and many still expect a floor vote, Senate opposition, and Republican leaders’ squeamishness, notwithstanding.
As Greg Sargent reports this afternoon, Senate Democrats are well aware of the GOP’s predicament, and they’re eager to “twist the knife.”
…Republicans can’t put this behind them, Dems believe, because the conservative base is still itching for this fight to continue.
Today, in an effort to exacerbate this dynamic, all dozen female Democratic Senators will call on House Republicans to drop this battle once and for all.
In a letter to Speaker John Boehner – which was sent my way by a source – the 12 female Senate Dems, led by Patty Murray, are demanding that he drop his promise to hold a vote on the House version of the Blunt amendment, which has over 200 Republicans co-sponsors.
The letter from the female Senators – which is timed to International Women’s Day – asks Boehner to pledge not to move any more birth-control-related legislation in the House.
It’s almost certainly a letter the Speaker’s office was not happy to receive – it puts Boehner on the spot on an issue he’d prefer to see go away entirely.
If Boehner agrees to give up on limiting access to contraception, he’ll look like he’s caving to Democrats, while abandoning assurances he made publicly last week. If Boehner rejects the Democrats’ call, he’s committing his party to a prolonged culture-war fight on an issue that hurts his party.
And if Boehner bites his tongue and says nothing, he reinforces the recent talk about his weakness as Speaker.
“For most American women, the battle over contraception was settled a half century ago,” the Democratic senators’ letter says. “Women have had enough.”
What do you say, Mr. Speaker? Have you had enough, too?