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Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Gee, too bad Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) wasn't there for the nation's women, not to mention her own constituents, when it really counted. Like when the Senate was voting on the Blunt amendment to allow employers to dictate their employees' health care, specifically access to contraception. Now, Murkowski tells the Anchorage Daily News' Julia O'Malley that she regrets that vote.
Back from Washington, D.C., for the start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, the senator kept running into female voters who wrote in her name in the last election—moderate women who did not always vote Democrat or Republican. These women were coming unglued. [...]

We talked for 45 minutes. What Lisa Murkowski told me I already suspected. She's a moderate. She supports abortion rights and contraception coverage. She also doesn't line up completely with the Catholic Church when it comes to birth control. She regretted her recent vote.

"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.

She'd meant to make a statement about religious freedom, she said, but voters read it as a vote against contraception coverage for women. The measure was so broad, it's hard not to read it that way. I suspect Murkowski saw that, but for reasons she didn't share with me, voted for it anyway.

When it comes down to it, Murkowski is as bad as Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). They both like to call themselves moderates and say they support women's reproductive rights, but they cave to GOP leadership when the chips are down. They both tried to couch this vote as "religious freedom," but as Rush Limbaugh has made so crystal clear in his days-long tirade, it's all about women's health. Murkowski's supporters see that; Collins' supporters will see that.

There is one good thing this vote accomplished: it showed that there is no moderate center in the Senate. Only GOP lemmings. Murkowski and Collins proved that with their votes, however much they might regret that vote now. Too little, too late, Lisa. If you want to save yourself, save your party, take O'Malley's advice.

Regrets are one thing, but real votes in the Senate are another. If she's a moderate, she should vote like one. Otherwise, all her weekends in Alaska will end up like this last one: full of apologies.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 10:02 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos and Pro Choice.

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