Democrats to force vote in US Senate on codifying abortion rights – live | US politics

Democrats will start taking names on Wednesday afternoon as their attempt to enshrine abortion rights into federal law faces inevitable defeat in the US Senate.

What senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has called “among the most important votes of the century” will not reach the required 60-vote threshold, with Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, two Republicans who support abortion rights, having declared their intention to vote against.

Susan Collins.
Susan Collins. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

But with the symbolic vote, Schumer will achieve his goal of putting Republican senators on record, just months before November’s midterm elections, over an issue that has proved hugely unpopular with voters:

Every senator will have to vote and every American will see how they voted. And I believe the Republican party, the Maga Republican party, will suffer the consequences electorally when the American people see that.

Opinion polls appear to back Schumer, at least as far as the unpopularity of last week’s leaked draft ruling from the supreme court that would end constitutional protections for abortion.

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll on Wednesday shows increasing numbers opposed to the supreme court overturning the 1973 Roe v Wade opinion, including, for the first time, fewer than 50% of Republican supporters.

The survey shows 48% of Republicans would want the draft ruling to become final, down 3% from a week ago. Among Democrats, 75% want Roe upheld, up 7%, and among independents the figure is 52%.

Since a survey conducted before the leaked draft opinion revealing that the court’s conservative majority had voted to overturn Roe, the share of Democrats who were “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic to vote in the midterms increased from 48% to 54%. https://t.co/rYbP5DXwax pic.twitter.com/VDeRMbygIF

— Morning Consult (@MorningConsult) May 11, 2022

That’s why, despite Democrats lacking the numbers to pass legislation to protect abortion rights, and predicted to lose control of one, or both, chambers of Congress in November, they think they can still turn the issue to their advantage.

Morning Consult says since the supreme court draft ruling was leaked, Democratic voters who say they are “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic to vote in the midterms rose six points to 54%.

In the words of Democratic Nevada senator Jackie Rosen:

We have to take that fear, we have to take that anger that we’re feeling, channel it into action to defend our majority. You have to elect more pro-choice senators. We’re not living in a hypothetical.

Elizabeth Warren has been on CNN explaining why she’s no supporter of a bipartisan approach to legislation to protect abortion rights.

Elizabeth Warren.
Elizabeth Warren. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

The Democratic Massachusetts senator, one of her party’s most outspoken proponents of codifying the supreme court’s 1973 Roe v Wade ruling into law, says measures promoted by pro-choice Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, won’t go far enough.

The pair, according to the Daily Beast, are working with Virginia’s Democratic senator Tim Kaine on more restrictive abortion rights legislation that would codify the basics of Roe v Wade but allow state laws to include items such as a religious conscience exemption.

Warren says she’s a hard no:

A measure that says ‘not really’ on Roe, a measure that says, hey, the things that are going on in the states already, even before this latest dust up with Texas, a measure that says it’s OK if in South Dakota there’s only one abortion clinic in the whole state [and] it’s OK to restrict the rights of people across this country? No, that’s not OK.

Because keep in mind who this will fall hardest on. It’s going to fall hardest on poor women, it’s going to fall hardest on women of color, it’s going to fall hardest on the 14-year-old who was molested by her uncle, on the mama working three jobs to try to support the children she has.

Mitch McConnell has [said]… if the Republicans get back into control, we’re willing to open the door to make it fall on everyone, all across this country, to outlaw abortion, not just in red states, but in blue states as well.

The scope of this is enormous and that’s why the vote today is so important.

Maya Yang

The impending end to legal abortion in half the states will strain capacity and resources in others preserving abortion access, my colleague Maya Yang has found:

After the bombshell leak of a supreme court draft opinion last week revealed that the majority of justices plan to overturn Roe v Wade, a handful of states have been reaffirming and expanding their abortion care.

In recent days, a flurry of bills and statements have been emerging in largely Democratic-run states as lawmakers and organizations scramble to prepare for the possibility of a post-Roe America.

As some states seek to become “safe havens” for out-of-state abortion seekers, other states have been increasing abortion funding, expanding provider access and offering legal protections from lawsuits launched by citizen “bounty-hunters” against those involved in abortions.

Only 38% of women of reproductive age live in states that have shown support for abortion rights, according to the research organization Guttmacher Institute. In contrast, 58% live in states that have demonstrated hostility towards abortion rights. Only 4% of women live in middle-ground states.

Liz Krueger, with senate majority leader Chuck Schumer.
Liz Krueger, with senate majority leader Chuck Schumer. Photograph: Ron Adar/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

Last month, the New York state senator Liz Krueger introduced a bill that would shield New York doctors who offer abortion services to out-of-state patients by prohibiting law enforcement from cooperating with out-of-state investigations on abortion provisions.

“At this critical moment New York must ensure abortion access both to New Yorkers and refugees from other states who are being denied their basic rights,” Krueger told the Guardian.

“We must provide iron-clad protection for New York healthcare providers against abhorrent and regressive laws in other states,” she added.

Similarly, Alessandra Biaggi, another New York state senator, introduced a bill that would create an abortion access fund and allow taxpayers to contribute to it.

“We created this bill to make sure that we were not just saying that people have a right to an abortion, but also that they have access to it because we know that simply by just saying the right does not mean that people have the means to do it,” Biaggi told the Guardian.

In addition to transportation costs, the fund would cover childcare services, lodging, various medical expenses and other logistical support.

Read the full story:

White House: ‘Imperative’ to protect women’s reproductive choice

The White House has just issued a statement ahead of the US Senate’s abortion rights vote this afternoon, urging Congress to pass the women’s health protection act:

The urgency to protect women’s health, their fundamental right to control their reproductive choices, and the freedom of all people to build their own future has never been greater.

The position of the Biden administration has been clear since day one: We will defend women’s constitutional rights recognized in Roe v Wade nearly half a century ago – rights that have been under attack for decades, and are under unprecedented threat now, despite strong support from the American people.

It is imperative for Congress to act to adopt statutory protections for women’s access to essential health care services and reproductive choice, regardless of where they live.

Congress must further act to protect health care providers’ ability to provide such critical services free from unwarranted and inappropriate restrictions, and to eliminate unjustified burdens on commerce that prevent women and their families from participating fully and equally in the economic and social life of the United States.

The protections that the Women’s Health Protection Act would ensure are essential to the health, safety, and progress of our nation. Congress should advance this important bill with the utmost urgency this moment demands.

Read the full statement from the executive office of the president here.

Here’s a few tweets from some key Democratic players in the abortion rights debate, ahead of this afternoon’s US Senate vote. From Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader:

Today, this Senate will vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify the right to an abortion into federal law.

The American people will see where every single U.S. Senator stands.

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 11, 2022

Bob Casey, senator for Pennsylvania, staunch Catholic and self-confessed anti-abortion Democrat:

Elizabeth Warren, senator for Massachusetts and vocal abortion rights campaigner:

A far-right, extremist Supreme Court wants to force its unpopular views on Americans. We can’t let this happen. Watch my speech on why the Senate needs to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine the right to an abortion in federal law: https://t.co/jZIxnQaLtZ

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 10, 2022

Dick Durbin of Illinois, Senate majority whip:

With the future of Roe v. Wade in question, it has never been more important for Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.

I’m live on the Senate floor, discussing the need to pass this bill and protect reproductive rights. https://t.co/1iVhxvunIH

— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) May 10, 2022

Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, lead sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act:

We cannot rely on the courts to defend abortion rights & access. The Senate needs to take action to enshrine the promise & vision of Roe v. Wade in federal law. We must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. #WHPA

— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) May 11, 2022

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

A day before Democrats staged a vote in the Senate to codify into law the right to abortion, a right under threat from the supreme court, the Republican leader in the chamber said his party would not be able to pass an abortion ban should it take control in midterm elections in November.

“Historically, there have been abortion votes on the floor of the Senate. None of them have achieved 60 votes,” Mitch McConnell told reporters.

“I think it’s safe to say there aren’t 60 votes there at the federal level, no matter who happens to be in the majority, no matter who happens to be in the White House.”

Mitch McConnell.
Mitch McConnell. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

The chamber is split 50-50 and therefore controlled by the tie-breaking vote of the vice-president, Kamala Harris. Democrats and progressives have urged the party to seek to scrap the filibuster, the Senate rule that requires 60 votes for most legislation.

Such reform seems unlikely. With key Democrats opposed, Punchbowl News, a Washington outlet, reported on Wednesday that the issue was not even discussed at a party Senate lunch the day before.

When Donald Trump was in power McConnell, too, came under pressure to scrap the filibuster to advance the Republican agenda.

On Tuesday, the Kentucky senator told reporters there were “no issues that Republicans believe should be exempt from the 60-vote threshold”.

The measure before the Senate on Wednesday – for which the Democrats do not even have 50 votes, with opposition from some in their own party as well as pro-choice Republicans – is the Women’s Health Protection Act. It would codify Roe v Wade, the 1973 supreme court decision that protects the right to abortion.

Read the full story:

Democrats will start taking names on Wednesday afternoon as their attempt to enshrine abortion rights into federal law faces inevitable defeat in the US Senate.

What senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has called “among the most important votes of the century” will not reach the required 60-vote threshold, with Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, two Republicans who support abortion rights, having declared their intention to vote against.

Susan Collins.
Susan Collins. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

But with the symbolic vote, Schumer will achieve his goal of putting Republican senators on record, just months before November’s midterm elections, over an issue that has proved hugely unpopular with voters:

Every senator will have to vote and every American will see how they voted. And I believe the Republican party, the Maga Republican party, will suffer the consequences electorally when the American people see that.

Opinion polls appear to back Schumer, at least as far as the unpopularity of last week’s leaked draft ruling from the supreme court that would end constitutional protections for abortion.

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll on Wednesday shows increasing numbers opposed to the supreme court overturning the 1973 Roe v Wade opinion, including, for the first time, fewer than 50% of Republican supporters.

The survey shows 48% of Republicans would want the draft ruling to become final, down 3% from a week ago. Among Democrats, 75% want Roe upheld, up 7%, and among independents the figure is 52%.

Since a survey conducted before the leaked draft opinion revealing that the court’s conservative majority had voted to overturn Roe, the share of Democrats who were “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic to vote in the midterms increased from 48% to 54%. https://t.co/rYbP5DXwax pic.twitter.com/VDeRMbygIF

— Morning Consult (@MorningConsult) May 11, 2022

That’s why, despite Democrats lacking the numbers to pass legislation to protect abortion rights, and predicted to lose control of one, or both, chambers of Congress in November, they think they can still turn the issue to their advantage.

Morning Consult says since the supreme court draft ruling was leaked, Democratic voters who say they are “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic to vote in the midterms rose six points to 54%.

In the words of Democratic Nevada senator Jackie Rosen:

We have to take that fear, we have to take that anger that we’re feeling, channel it into action to defend our majority. You have to elect more pro-choice senators. We’re not living in a hypothetical.

Good morning and welcome to the midweek edition of the US politics blog.

It’s voting day in the US Senate on Democrats’ legislation to codify constitutional abortion protections in the wake of the supreme court’s draft ruling overturning them.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, says it’s among the most important votes of the century, and when it fails, because he doesn’t have the 60 votes he needs, the party can start pointing to the Republicans who blocked it.

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll on Wednesday shows fewer than 50% of Republican voters want Roe v Wade overturned.

It’s a hugely busy day elsewhere in US politics:

  • Senators will pick up the $40m Ukraine aid bill passed in the House last night after Joe Biden dropped his demand for it to be tied to his $20bn+ Covid-19 relief request.
  • Biden heads for Illinois to talk about food prices and the economy, as new data Wednesday reflected a slowing in inflation for the first time since August. With gas prices at record highs, Biden says tackling inflation is “my top domestic priority”.
  • There’s fallout from Tuesday’s Republican primaries in Nebraska and West Virginia, where candidates endorsed by former president Donald Trump experienced mixed fortunes.
  • White House chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci is among a number of Biden administration officials testifying to Congress, as an alarming new wave of Covid-19 spreads across the US, and cases and hospitalizations rise.
  • Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo, international development administrator Samantha Power, defense secretary Lloyd Austin and joint chiefs chair Mark Milley also have appointments on Capitol Hill.
  • Incoming White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will host a “gaggle” with journalists abort Air Force One en route to Chicago.

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