As she’s done in the past, particularly on social issues, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski bucked her party and voted to advance a bill that would have reversed a recent Supreme Court ruling that allows closely held corporations to decline to provide employees insurance coverage for some forms of birth control based on religious objections. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich. As expected, it failed.
In addition to Murkowski, two other Republican senators voted to advance it: Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Susan Collins of Maine, both of whom, like Murkowski, are known for being moderate Republicans.
Murkowski’s vote is consistent with what she said in 2012 after she supported a measure called the Blunt amendment that would have done through Congress what the Supreme Court eventually did. After the amendment failed, Murkowski came back home and heard numerous complaints from her constituents. She said that she regretted the vote and would not vote for it again.
“I have never had a vote I’ve taken where I have felt that I let down more people that believed in me,” she told the Anchorage Daily News’ Julia O’Malley shortly have the bill died.
In a statement, Begich said he was disappointed with the bill’s failure. “The Hobby Lobby case could impact more than 60,000 Alaska women who could be denied access to affordable birth control because of their boss’ personal beliefs and I am disappointed that the Senate failed to do the right thing and give women the peace of mind and access to health care they deserve,” Begich said.
The recent Supreme Court decision could be a big issue in the upcoming Senate race. All three Republican candidates who are vying for their party’s nomination support the Supreme Court’s decision.
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Clarification: As opposed to what was originally written, Murkowski’s vote wasn’t for the bill, but to open debate on the bill.