Senate Republicans have blocked a bill aimed at restoring free contraception for women who get their health insurance from companies that object on religious grounds.
The vote on Wednesday was 56-43 to move ahead on the measure, short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed.
Democrats sponsored the election-year bill to reverse last month's Supreme Court ruling that closely held businesses with religious objections could deny coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law.
Republicans called the bill a political stunt aimed at helping vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the midterm elections.
Democrats appealed to female voters, critical to their hopes of holding onto their Senate majority, in arguing for the measure.