Stabenow 1, Kyl 0

STABENOW 1, KYL 0…. As a rule, if a senator is pushing back against a colleague’s rhetoric, and references the other senator’s mother, it would be a fairly dramatic breach of protocol. But that’s not always the case.

Igor Volsky reports today that Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has been pushing an amendment to “prohibit the government from defining which benefits should be included in a standard benefit package.” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) noted that basic maternity care ought to be required.

“I don’t need maternity care,” Kyl replied. “So requiring that on my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.”

Interrupting him, Stabenow added, “I think your mom probably did.”

It generated laughter in the hearing room, and with good reason, but it’s worth emphasizing why Kyl’s argument is worthy of derision. In the hopes of making insurance cheaper, Kyl is comfortable with not covering basic maternity care. The status quo — only 21 states require insurers to provide maternity care benefits — is just fine with the #2 senator in the GOP leadership. If discriminatory practices boost industry profits, it’s just the free market working as it should.

Kyl’s measure was defeated, 14 to 9. That nine Republicans voted for it says a great deal about how the GOP is approaching the reform debate.