An effort to reinstate the Trump-era Title X gag rule failed in the U.S. Senate Wednesday on a 49-49 vote.

Washington state Sen. Patty Murray led the effort to block the Republican legislation, which previously barred any provider in the Title X network — the nation’s only federally funded program dedicated to providing affordable birth control and other sexual and reproductive health services — from mentioning abortion care to patients. Murray was integral to the rule’s repeal in 2021, and debated strongly against its return.

Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski said the vote was a prime example of why Republicans cannot regain control of the Senate. 

“Our state needs a champion for reproductive rights — now more than ever. Sen. Murray is that champion,” Podlodowski said. “Meanwhile, Tiffany Smiley has said repeatedly she’s ‘100% pro-life.’ Smiley would put the Senate back in the hands of Mitch McConnell and MAGA Republicans who want Roe v. Wade overturned and even question whether contraception should be legal. Bottom line: Sen. Murray will always fight for reproductive rights. Tiffany Smiley and the GOP won’t stop at banning abortions, they want to take away birth control too.”   

Smiley was endorsed earlier this year by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), an anti-abortion advocate who last month openly criticized the landmark 1965 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing access to contraception. Smiley has also spoke in favor of Texas’s extreme abortion ban, one of the most restrictive in the nation.

Sen. Murray recently  secured $4.5 million in Title X funding for Washington state providers, who had been forced to leave the network after the gag rule’s initial passage in 2019.