Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Tuesday pledged to hold a vote on codifying abortion rights in federal law, despite long odds of mustering the votes to pass it.
Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, said that reports the Supreme Court was poised to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision were “dark and disturbing.”
“If this report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years, not just on women, but all Americans,” said the majority leader. “Under this decision, our children will have [fewer] rights than their parents.”
By overturning Roe, the Supreme Court would essentially assert that abortion is not a right protected by the U.S. constitution. The move would kick the issue to the state level, where abortion could be banned or expanded at a whim.
While no formal decision has yet been made, Mr. Schumer vowed to force a vote on legislation enshrining the right to abortion into federal law.
“A vote on this legislation is not an abstract exercise,” he said. “This is as urgent and real as it gets … and every American is going to see on which side every senator stands.”
Similar legislation to codify abortion rights into law failed in the Senate earlier this year. The bill not only failed to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster but also failed to garner 50 votes in the 100-member chamber. It wouldn’t have passed even if Democrats ended the Senate filibuster rule that requires 60 votes for most legislation to survive in the upper chamber.
Joining Republicans in refusing to move the bill was Sen. Joe Manchin III, a moderate West Virginia Democrat.
Still, Senate Democrats renewing calls to abolish the 60-vote threshold.
“Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country now,” said Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent. “And if there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there are not, we must end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes.”
Such a strategy is unlikely to succeed either, however. Democrats attempted to blow up the filibuster earlier this year to pass a partisan voting bill but were stymied by members of their conference.
Mr. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, in particular, refused to abolish the filibuster. Ms. Sinema, Arizona Democrat, argued at the time the filibuster was one of the last guardrails preventing majoritarian tyranny.
“American politics are cyclical and the granting of power in Washington, D.C., is exchanged regularly by the voters from one party to another,” she said. “But what is the legislative filibuster other than a tool … that millions of Americans represented by the minority party have a voice in the process.”
• Haris Alic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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