COLUMBIA (AP) — South Carolina senators defeated another attempt by Democrats to extend Medicaid coverage under the federal health care law.


The Senate’s 23-19 vote Tuesday rejected inserting the expansion into its 2013-14 budget proposal. It represented supporters’ closest vote yet.


Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has remained steadfast in her opposition of the expansion. The U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the health care law made the Medicaid provision voluntary. But the decision ultimately is up to legislators.


House Republicans defeated attempts during that chamber’s budget debates along party lines. The Senate Finance Committee’s budget plan advanced to the floor after Democrats voted “present” to protest it not including the expansion.


The Senate budget debate is in its second week.


Another issue expected to bring prolonged debate is private school choice.