The Blunt amendment is dead:

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday killed a Republican effort to let employers and health insurance companies deny coverage for contraceptives and other services to which they have religious or moral objections.

The vote was 51 to 48. In effect, the Senate upheld President Obama’s birth control policy. The policy guarantees that women have access to insurance coverage for contraceptives at no charge, through an employer’s health plan or directly from an insurance company.

The vote generally followed party lines. Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, who said this week that she would not run for re-election, was the only Republican to vote with Democrats to kill the measure.

The challenge to the president’s policy was supported by 45 Republicans and 3 Democrats: Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska; Mr. Casey and Mr. Manchin are up for re-election this year, while Mr. Nelson is retiring this year.

Fun fact that I had missed along the way: This was an amendment to a highway bill. I know this sort of thing is totally routine in Congress, but it’s worth stepping back once in a while to fully take in the breathtaking nonsensicality of many congressional norms.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.