Talking Points Memo reports that House Republicans are renewing their push to undo Obama’s contraception mandate:
This spring’s political contretemps over access to contraception are returning to Capitol Hill — and this time Republicans are trying to tie the issue to must-pass legislation, foreshadowing a possible government shutdown standoff unless conservatives back down and temporarily agree to set aside earlier grievances.
House Republicans renewed their effort Wednesday by advancing a measure through the Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee with a rider to roll back President Obama’s contraception mandate. Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, the rule requires employer-provided health insurance plans to cover contraception without co-pays, with carve-outs for churches and religious non-profits. Republicans on the panel defeated a Democratic amendment to strip the provision, suggesting they’re willing to pick the fight.
Are we really going through this again? Apparently so. And Dems are going to try to make an issue of it in a critical Senate race — the battle between GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg and Montana Dem Senator Jon Tester, which by all accounts is a very close contest.
Rep. Rehberg is a leading suppporter of the new measure, arguing that it is about “reining in spending and controlling over-regulation.” But national Dems are going to accuse Rehberg of reigniting the “war on contraception.” The DSCC is emailing reporters this:
Dennis Rehberg has single handedly re-launched the partisan war on women’s healthcare...the legislation that Montana’s millionaire Congressman rolled out earlier this week includes controversial language that would permit any employer to roll back healthcare coverage, including access to contraception, if they have any “moral” objections...
Rehberg’s bill also guts funding for other critical programs that would result in dangerous consequences, particularly for Montana women. His bill completely eliminates Title X funding which pays for preventative care such as cancer screenings. In 2010 alone, Title X clinics performed 1,810,620 cervical cancer screenings and 2,192,051 breast cancer screenings. That year, 27,268 Montanans received services provided because of Title X funding.
The push will provide a test of whether Dems can use women’s health issues to appeal to female voters in red states. It also coincides with a broader vow by Dems to remain on offense on health care in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling, by trying to force Republicans into a discussion of the specific provisions in Obamacare that their drive to repeal the law would actually take away from people. The battle over the contraceptive mandate is seen by Dem strategists as somewhat more favorable turf for the health care fight.
The last time this fight took place it seemed to result in gains for Obama among female voters, and the GOP backed off. If John Boehner can manage to pull his members together to support a stopgap spending measure, this showdown will be averted. But as Sahil Kapur notes: “if House conservatives reject that and push ahead with riders and spending cuts, it will spark a showdown with the Senate, isolating House Republicans and leaving them to choose between caving or shutting down the government.”