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Now that the Blunt amendment—which would have allowed any employer to opt out of parts of Obama's health care reform law based on moral or religious objections—is effectively dead, at least one Republican senator apparently regrets supporting the proposal in the first place.
Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski told an Anchorage Daily News editorial writer over the weekend that she voted for the amendment in order to make a statement about religious freedom. But now, after facing backlash from the moderate voters who put her in office, she wishes she would have broken with her party's leaders and voted with Democrats against the effort.
When asked if, given a do-over, she'd support the amendment a second time, Murkowski told her hometown paper that she wouldn't. "I have never had a vote I’ve taken where I have felt that I let down more people that believed in me," she said.
The Blunt amendment was a politically-charged proposal riding on conservative opposition to the provision in the health care reform law that would have required employers to provide coverage of contraception, free of charge. Conservative religious leaders lashed out at the policy, saying it trampled their religious freedom. In response, the White House proposed a compromise in which religious employers would not be directly responsible for providing contraception coverage, instead passing on the duty to the insurance company.
But the compromise failed to satisfy most Republicans, including Sen. Roy Blunt, who introduced the now-tabled amendment that bears his name. Re-framing the issue as a "religious liberty" problem, Blunt and his supporters attempted to change the context of the debate to something more gender neutral. The amendment was tabled, 51-48 in the Senate, with retiring GOP Sen. Olympia Snow the only Republican voting against it.
As the Daily News points out in the editorial, it's hard to see how Murkowski, a Catholic who presents herself as pro-choice and as a supporter of contraception coverage, could have missed the broader context of the Blunt Amendment when making her vote.