The party is using the controversial 5-4 decision, which said that closely-held businesses with religious objections can opt out of the Obamacare requirement that employers must cover all forms of birth control for employees, to rally its female base to show up at the polls for the upcoming midterm elections.
Days after the June 30 ruling, House and Senate Democrats jointly drafted legislation to restore the Affordable Care Act's mandate that employers cover birth control for employees.
The bill, which Democrats nicknamed the “Not My Boss's Business Act,” failed in the Senate on Wednesday, attracting three Republicans but falling three votes short needed for passage.
But the effort achieved a major objective: to keep the issue fresh in the minds of potential Democratic voters, as the party struggles to hold on to its slim majority in the Senate.
Democrats are particularly interested in targeting unmarried women, who often don't show up for midterm elections.
“I sincerely hope our Republican colleagues will join us and allow us to proceed to debate on this important bill,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a main sponsored of the bill, said on the Senate floor before the vote. “I'd like to remind them that women across the country are watching, and I think they will be very interested in seeing who is on their side."
In another move to keep the issue on the political front burner, Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced legislation to ensure that job applicants at for-profit companies are informed in advance if the business intends to opt out of the Obamacare birth control requirement.
The measure also will probably fail. But Republican opposition, as expected, would give Democrats yet another opportunity to portray Republicans as "anti-women."
Democrats also are getting help from outside allies. Immediately after the Democrats' bill failed, NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion-rights political action committee, began airing television ad in Kentucky slamming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is up for re-election this year, for opposing the measure.
“We will continue to work between now and election day to remind women, and all voters, where their representative stands on this vital issue,” said Ilyse Hogue, the group’s president.
Republicans counter by accusing Democrats of distorting the facts around the court’s decision for political gain and said Wednesday's failed bill was nothing more than publicity stunt.
“I am proud to oppose a brazenly political attempt to undermine religious freedom,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “It is unfortunate that Democrats in Congress have decided to focus on patently false messaging' legislation that is solely intended to score political points rather than tackle the real problems.”
But Democrats say Republicans — not them — are the ones playing politics with the Hobby Lobby ruling. McConnell, in a move to try to counter the Democrats' portrayal that GOP support of the Supreme Court's decision is hurting women, has announced legislation that would reaffirm a business can't block a female employee from legally obtaining FDA-approved contraceptives.
Democrats say the bill is meaningless because employers already can’t stop women from acquiring birth control on their own.