When we left Senate Amendment 1520, Ohio reporter Jim Heath was bobbling a question about it. The "Blunt-Rubio" bill, as he called it, did not actually "ban contraception." It did allow any employer to sidestep a mandate, and deny coverage for birth control if the employer so chose.
Today, the Senate killed the amendment -- but only just. Three Democrats backed the Blunt amendment. (They are recorded as nays, because they voted against tabling it.)
- Bob Casey, Pennsylvania, is up for re-election in 2012; he defeated Rick Santorum six years ago, in part, because he's nominally pro-life. (The pro-life movement doesn't want to hear it, because Casey voted for Obama's Supreme Court nominees.)
- Joe Manchin, West Virginia, is also up for re-election in 2012, and probably needs to run 11-15 points ahead of Barack Obama to survive.
- Ben Nelson, Nebraska, who is retiring this year, passing the baton (in all likelihood, according to the whims of primary voters) to former Sen. Bob Kerrey. He's handed Republicans a potent question to ask that will either define Kerrey as a sap unacceptable to NARAL or a baby-hater unaware of the new pro-life standard. But this might have happened had Nelson voted no, too.
Every single Republican voted to save the amendment. The allegedly pro-choice Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, the fence-straddling (or at least fence-conscious) Scott Brown. These were largely safe votes; Snowe is retiring, and Brown wrote his negative ads for November when he endorsed the bill last month. Never understimate the ability of a non-supermajority U.S. Senate to cast completely predictable partisan votes on stillborn* legislation.
TODAY IN SLATE
More Than Scottish Pride
What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture
Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows
Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?
The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.
Happy Constitution Day!
Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.