Schumer vows abortion rights floor fight in wake of Roe draft opinion

By | May 3, 2022

The Senate will hold a vote on codifying abortion rights in the wake of the breach of a Supreme Court draft majority opinion that shows five justices prepared to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday.

“A vote on this legislation is not an abstract exercise,” Schumer said. “This is as urgent and real as it gets. We will vote to protect a woman’s right to choose, and every American is going to see which side every senator stands.”

The push for another floor vote was widely expected after POLITICO reported on Monday night about the court’s draft opinion. But the Senate failed to advance similar Roe legislation in February, and Democrats privately acknowledge that any subsequent vote will face a similar fate — despite the eagerness to act on abortion rights among many in the party’s base.

“More than anything we want to make sure every senator is on the record in terms of their position on Roe and on the decision of the court,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). He added that he expects his panel to hold a hearing on the decision.

Importantly, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) doesn’t support abortion rights and voted against the Democratic proposal earlier this year. And while the draft opinion is renewing calls to nix the legislative filibuster, the Senate doesn’t have the votes required to toss the chamber’s 60-vote threshold needed to pass most bills.

Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine support abortion rights and have their own legislation to codify Roe, but they also voted against moving forward on the Democratic bill in February, citing its inclusion of broader abortion-related provisions.

With Democrats’ options in Congress limited, the party increasingly views its best hope for reversing the court’s direction on abortion as galvanizing liberal voters — particularly women — ahead of the midterm elections and expanding their fragile majorities.

“The rights of 100 million women are now on the ballot,” Schumer said. “To help fight this court’s awful decision, I urge every American to make their voices heard this week and this year….And most of all to cast their ballots.”

Several House Democrats are already calling for more floor votes in the lower chamber, insisting they want to vote again to codify the rights in Roe v. Wade even if the bill lacks a path forward in the Senate.

“I would certainly favor doing it again to make the point that what the Supreme Court has done is disgusting,” House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said in an interview Tuesday. “I think their view of the future is something out of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’.”

Teeing up more votes in the House, Democrats argue, will also underscore to voters how seriously they takeabortion rights ahead of November.

“For all the talk in the past that Roe vs. Wade was on the chopping block, a lot of people said, ‘Oh, that’s never going to happen. The Supreme Court will never overturn that.’ But it’s real. It’s happening,” McGovern said.

President Joe Biden also seemed to acknowledge the uphill nature of legislative action. In a statement Tuesday morning, Biden said at the federal level, “we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe.”

Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.