After decades of fighting for abortion legislation, the United States Congress is about to meet the limits of its political capacity to save, or nullify, the guarantees established by the historic ruling in the case. Roe vs. Wade.
President Joe Biden has called on Democrats to sign into law the Supreme Court ruling almost 50 years ago, after a draft opinion was leaked that would overturn the historic decision that declared the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.
But when it comes to passing bills in Congress, roughly split down the middle, that’s easier said than done.
A Senate test vote on a Democratic bill to protect access to abortion is expected to fail due to delaying tactics by a Republican-led group.
At the same time, Republicans led by Sen. Mitch McConnell face similar political problems as they try to ban abortions across the country, even if they win control of the chamber in next fall’s midterm elections.
Instead, whatever the decision of the Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade in his final opinion in the coming weeks all but guarantees a new era of political fight in Congress over abortion accessrules to prevent voting and the most basic rights to health care, privacy and protection of the unborn.
“All of us will have to answer for this vote for the rest of our time in public office,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before Wednesday’s session.
“All of us will have to answer for this vote for the rest of our time in public office”
Debates over abortion access have in many ways stalled in recent years in Congress, a political deadlock, as lawmakers grappled with the limits of trying to advance public policy beyond the landmark Roe vs. . Wade.
Bills are often put on the ballot to expand or limit abortion services, only to remain in partisan proportion or be removed from broader legislative packages.
But the Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority, which grew stronger during Trump’s presidency, triggered an urgent change at the helm of Congress.
McConnell shocked Washington when he said it was “possible” to see a nationwide abortion ban. The Republican leader has become one of the main architects of the solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court, speeding up the confirmation of three of Donald Trump’s candidates in just four years and changing the rules of delaying tactics in the Senate to get around Democratic objections.
In an interview with USA Today, McConnell recently stated, “If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, the legislative bodies—not only at the state level, but also at the federal level—certainly could legislate in that area.”
But on Tuesday he acknowledged that if Republicans win a majority in the Senate, they are unlikely to have enough votes to ban abortion outright.
“The general feeling at my conference is that this issue will be taken up at the state level,” McConnell said.
The project fades
This bill has languished in the Senate, split 50/50 with Democratic control due to Vice President Kamala Harris’s ability to cast a tie-breaking vote. Failing to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome a stalling tactic, the February test vote failed, after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who joined Republicans in blocking consideration of the bill .
A similar outcome is expected on Wednesday, when the Senate tries again to pass the legislation, which would make a guaranteed right to abortion into law.
It is the first of what Schumer promises will be ongoing efforts to show voters where the parties stand.
In turn, the Democrats have described the Collins-Murkowski effort as insufficient, with no hope, for now, of reaching a real compromise.
For their part, rank-and-file Republicans distanced themselves from McConnell’s initial statements, asserting that a total nationwide abortion ban is not something they can deliver on.
“The truth is, you would never get that here,” said Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota.
Democrats are not convinced that Republicans, who have fought for years to deny abortion access, are now going to give up that fight and let states make their own decisions.
Both parties will most likely try to downplay the problem: Republicans restricting access to abortion nationally, while Democrats working to tighten the availability of medical abortions and other related services.
“There are multiple fronts that we can move forward on,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat.
In the House of Representatives, where Democrats hold the majority, lawmakers last year passed the Women’s Health Protection Act in a nearly partisan vote.after the Supreme Court gave the first hint that it was considering the issue by allowing a Texas law banning abortion to go into effect.
They won’t get the votes
He added that the Republicans will not have the 60 votes necessary to win a delaying process.
Similarly, Democrat Brian Schatz said of the other side: “I think we have to be explicit and tell the truth, which is that we currently don’t have the votes.”
Still, he said he hopes if voters elect more pro-choice senators, “we’ll put it into federal law.”
The pressure on both parties to convince voters that they are doing everything they can — Democrats to preserve abortion access and Republicans to end it — is enormous as the election approaches, in which Control of Congress will be at stake.
Congressional campaign committees raise money on the abortion issue, working hard to galvanize voters who are ready to participate at a time when an issue so important to millions of Americans is at stake.
The two Republican senators who support abortion access, Lisa Murkowskifor Alaska and who is seeking re-election in November, and Susan Collinsfor Mainehave proposed a separate bill that would counter the Supreme Court’s action.
But both senators, who voted to ratify most of Trump’s justices, are expected to stay within the GOP line this week and block the Democratic bill as too broad.
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