The Senate voted 51–48 to defeat a “conscience” amendment that would allow employers to opt out of health-care coverage they find objectionable for religious or moral reasons. The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act was proposed by Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri as a pushback to the Obama administration’s mandate for birth-control coverage. Centrists played their cards close to their vests right up to the moment of the vote, with Republicans like Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine saying she felt the legislation needed to be more focused. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the Senate should be focusing its attention on other issues, such as energy policy. The measure was opposed by the vast majority of Democrats.
ROLL CALL J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo