Boehner Vows to Fight Contraception Rule
Congressional Republicans, seizing on the type of social issue that motivates and unifies their base, stepped forcefully Wednesday into the battle over an Obama administration rule requiring health insurance plans provided by Catholic universities and charities to offer free birth control to women, vowing to fight back with legislation to unravel the new policy.
“This is not a women’s rights issue,” said Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire. “This is a religious liberty issue.”
Racing to defend the administration, five Democratic senators returned from their party’s retreat south of the Capitol to hold a news conference to push back on that notion. “We stand here ready to oppose any attack that is being launched against women’s rights and women’s health,” said Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York.
For House Republicans, who have been hammered in the last few months in the battle over a payroll tax holiday, and whose signature bill for the second session, a transportation measure, is already under fire from the left and the right, the fight over the contraception rule offered a possible way to regain their political footing, particularly with signs that the economy might be improving.
It is potentially a powerful wedge issue that could unite what has been a fractured conference. Further, similar to their efforts in support of the Keystone XL pipeline, the party can attract just enough Democrats to their side to complicate things for the administration.