After the Senate narrowly defeated the anti-contraception Blunt Amendment last week, Republicans said they weren't prepared to give up the fight. On the contrary, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed to keep pushing restrictions, eyeing "a couple" of possible legislative remedies. The Senate GOP made similar noises, with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) declaring, "This issue will not go away."
A week later, Republicans are ready to see the issue go away.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who regrets her vote for the Blunt Amendment, is now willing to say on the record her party is badly off track by even "having a conversation" about contraception access. Even Blunt himself told Sahil Kapur yesterday that the upper chamber is likely to shift its attention elsewhere.
"You know, I think we've got as many votes as I think there were to get on that," Senate GOP Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt told TPM Tuesday afternoon after a weekly Capitol briefing. "I think the House side may take some further action. That debate will go on for a long time, though I don't know that there's anything else to happen in the Senate in the near future."The concession marks a departure for the GOP leadership, which as recently as last week insisted that Republicans were on the right side of the issue and would fight on. [...]More evidence that the GOP is ready to relent: Senate Republican leaders have abandoned what they once considered winning turf, and gone silent after weeks of publicly attacking President Obama and Democrats for infringing on religious liberties.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) added that it seems Republicans realize the contraception fight "hasn't served them well."
Immediately after the vote on his measure, Blunt told reporters the fight "is not over," but six days and a Rush Limbaugh scandal later, that vow is looking pretty shaky.