Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., has dismissed Democratic criticism of the GOP's so-called "War on Women," calling it "a manufactured issue."
In a radio interview with a Louisville radio station, the longtime Kentucky senator rattled off the names of the five Republican women in the Senate as proof that the GOP is inclusive and respective of women's rights.
"Talk about a manufactured issue -- there is no issue," McConnell said on WHAS-AM. "Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison [from Texas] and Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe from Maine I think would be the first to say -- and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska -- 'we don't see any evidence of this.'"
Democrats have been pummeling Republicans in recent weeks over some members' opposition to contraceptive rights as well as the GOP's traditional reluctance to support equal-pay laws.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, for example, was blocked by Senate Republicans until Democrats finally secured enough votes in 2009. That law required employers to pay women and men equal wages.
The contraception controversy blew up after the Obama administration proposed requiring employers to include contraception with other health care they provide employees. The administration later tried to compromise by proposing that employers weren't required to offer contraception, but that insurers were required to cover it.
Still, the controversy appeared to backfire on Republicans in the House after a GOP-controlled oversight committee invited several witnesses to testify against the administration's proposal. All of the witnesses were men, prompting a public outcry from Democrats.
McConnell may have overstated his case. Murkowski, an independent who caucuses with Republicans, recently described the GOP's opposition on contraception as an "attack on women," and Snowe has also been critical of the party's approach on the issue.
Additionally, in 2009, Hutchison, Snowe and Collins all broke ranks with the GOP to support the fair pay act in the Senate.
by RTT Staff Writer
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