And unless that changes, Democrats acknowledge they’re left with one main option: Attempting to defy the odds and win more power in the midterms.
“It’s uphill, there’s no question that it’s an ongoing fight,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “But this prospect of reversing Roe vs. Wade is no longer some abstract or hypothetical thing in the future … Countless women are feeling afraid, alone, anguished and angry. And they’re going to be voting. And we need more senators who are pro-choice.”
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 — despite the party base’s eagerness to act on abortion rights. Democratic leaders, however, argue that the stakes are different now that the court decision is looming.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats will introduce a new bill this week.
“It’s a different world now, the tectonic plates of our politics, on women’s choice and on women’s rights in general are changing,” Schumer said. “Every senator now, under the real glare of Roe v. Wade repealed by the courts, is going to have to show which side they’re on. And we will find the best way to go forward after that.”
He added that he hasn’t looked at legislation introduced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would also codify Roe. Murkowski, who said the draft opinion “rocks my confidence in the court right now,” commented Tuesday that she thought the Senate should consider their bill.
The looming floor vote is renewing calls from progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to nix the legislative filibuster, even as Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) reiterated that they still support the 60-vote requirement. Sinema doubled down on her position Tuesday, arguing that the filibuster has protected women’s access to health care “half-a-dozen times in the past ten years.”
Still, Sanders said the Senate should “absolutely” hold another rules change vote, even without full support from the Democratic caucus, declaring that “the American people have a right to know how their senators feel about that issue, an issue about whether women are going to lose fundamental rights they’ve had for 50 years.”
While the Senate is expected to vote on legislation to codify Roe, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) suggested that they instead should vote on a simpler Senate resolution that could unify all 50 members of the caucus. Manchin voted against moving forward on legislation to codify Roe in February.
“If there’s something that will get all 50 votes, why put something on the floor that won’t?” Kaine asked.
With Democrats’ current options in Congress limited, the party increasingly views its best hope on abortion rights as galvanizing liberal voters — particularly women — ahead of the midterm elections and expanding their fragile majorities.
“Roe v. Wade has been on the ballot for many on the far right for years,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “I think in 2022, it’s going to be on the ballot for the rest of America.”
Several House Democrats are already calling for more floor votes on abortion, even if the legislation 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 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 take abortion 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.
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 and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.