U.S. Senate Strikes Down Bill To Overturn Hobby Lobby Ruling, Lawmakers React

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senate republicans voted Wednesday to strike down a democratic sponsored bill that would have reversed the Supreme Court's recent decision allowing some for-profit companies to deny health insurance coverage of birth control for religious reasons. The vote, which democrats pushed hard for, was 56-43, short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed. The bipartisan clash comes two weeks after the court sided 5-4 with Hobby Lobby and two other corporations that challenged the birth control coverage in the Affordable Care Act. The high court's decision stated that the mandate violated the religious liberties of employers who don't believe in the use of contraceptives. Arkansas' democratic Senator Mark Pryor voted for the measure, while republican Senator John Boozman voted against.

Pryor released a statement after the vote, saying "I believe women should control their healthcare decisions, not employers or insurance company bureaucrats. This bill allows women and their families to make health-care decisions in accordance with their own religious beliefs. Additionally, it preserves the exemption made for churches and other religious nonprofits to ensure they do not have to provide coverage that violates their religious beliefs."

Boozman also issued a statement following the vote.  "This effort by Senate Democrats is another attack on religious liberty. I will continue to oppose legislation that threatens the rights of Americans to freely practice their religious beliefs. This legislation is nothing more than a political statement that won’t see the light of day in the House.  Last month the Supreme Court ruled in two cases Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, Corp. v. Burwell that for-profit businesses with religious objections can refuse to pay for abortifacients," Boozman said.

A spokesman for Republican Congressman Tom Cotton, who is running against Pryor for U.S. Senate, released a statement regarding Wednesday's vote.  Communications Director David Ray says, "This is just another example of Senator Pryor supporting Obamacare at all costs, even if it means trampling the religious freedoms of Christians who have deeply held religious beliefs. When it came time to choose between what Arkansans wanted him to do and what President Obama wanted him to do, Senator Pryor sided with Obama."

In response to the Cotton campaign's statement, Lexie Conduff, a spokeswoman for Senator Mark Pryor says, "The fact is, Congressman Cotton has a deeply condescending attitude toward women. Cotton opposes paycheck fairness for women and twice voted against the Violence Against Women Act -- he's even been quoted saying a woman's greatest fear in life is being left by her man. With a record that terrible, Congressman Cotton doesn't get to lecture Arkansas women about why their boss should be allowed to deny their access to common forms of birth control."

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