In case you were wondering whether Dems see the birth control fight as a potential winner for them, this just landed in the old inbox:
Nancy Pelosi announced today that the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on the issue of women’s health. The sole witness at the hearing will be Ms. Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University, who was blocked from testifying at a recent Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing by Chairman Darrell Issa . Instead, Chairman Issa brought forward a panel of all men to testify on this topic.
Well, that should draw a few cameras. This reminds me of a joke Atrios made the other day to the effect that Dems should “host an all female hearing on male prostate, genital, and reproductive health,” complete with big diagrams.
That’s probably not on the agenda, but a senior Democratic leadership aide tells me that female lawmakers will be making a more concerted effort to speak about the birth control fight in coming weeks.
“Women members are going to have a regular opportunity to go to the floor and talk about women’s health,” the aide says. He adds that female lawmakers will be using the upcoming second anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act to highlight GOP opposition to the contraception coverage mandate.
“That’s the temporal marker where a lot of this is going to be coming up again,” the aide says. Democrats are hoping to use this fight to relitigate health care reform on turf more favorable to them, by casting this battle as one over birth control and women’s health — and by arguing that the GOP sees both as lesser priorites than catering to hidebound cultural values right out of the 1950s.
Relatedly, the robo-polling firm Public Policy Polling just released a new poll for DailyKos finding that a big majority, 67 percent, say that all workers should be allowed access to health care coverage even if employers think the service in question violates their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.” That’s in line with one other major national telephone poll.
But Republicans still think this could be a political winner for them if they succeed in framing this as a battle over religious liberty and in advancing the subtext about Obama, big government, faith and values their message is intended to advance. Indeed, Republicans, too, are planning to double down on this fight, whatever the risks.
According to another announcement making the rounds, the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee is planning yet another hearing for next Tuesday, this one called: “Executive Overreach: The HHS Mandate Versus Religious Liberty.”