Republicans and Joe Manchin block Democrats' bill codifying Roe v. Wade's abortion rights protections

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Lisa Murkowski, Joe Manchin
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican of Alaska, and Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat of West Virginia on April 7, 2022 at the US Capitol.Drew Angerer/Getty Image
  • The Senate failed to advance a bill that would enshrine abortion rights in federal law.

  • All 50 GOP senators and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin opposed the bill.

  • The bill follows a leaked draft opinion that suggests the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Senate on Wednesday failed to advance a Democratic-led bill that would enshrine abortion rights in federal law, an expected outcome given broad Republican opposition. All 50 Republican senators, along with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, opposed the bill in a 49-51 vote.

Democratic leaders brought the legislation forward in response to a draft opinion leaked last week that suggested the Supreme Court appears ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide nearly 50 years ago.

But Wednesday's procedural vote was mostly a symbolic gesture, considering Democrats, who only hold a narrow majority in the Senate, did not have enough support to overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer characterized the vote as putting Republicans on the record with their opposition to abortion rights. The bill would have protected abortion access across the country and ensured the procedure remains legal in every state without additional restrictions.

"This is not an abstract exercise. It's as real, it's as urgent as it gets," Schumer said last week when announcing the vote. "All of America will be watching. Republicans will not be able to hide from the American people and cannot hide from their role in bringing Roe to an end."

Manchin, an abortion opponent who represents a conservative state, said on Wednesday that he was against the bill because it went further than just codifying Roe into federal law.

"It's just disappointing that we're going to be voting on a piece of legislation which I would not vote for today," Manchin told reporters ahead of the vote. "But I would vote for Roe v. Wade codification if it was today."

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who said they support abortion rights and have offered a more limited piece of legislation to codify Roe, also voted against Wednesday's bill.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who presided over the vote, expressed her disappointment at the final tally.

"Sadly, the Senate failed to stand in defense of a woman's right to make decisions about her own body," Harris told reporters immediately following the vote.

"This vote clearly says that the Senate is not where the majority of Americans are in this nation," she added, calling on voters to elect pro-abortion rights leaders at the local, state, and federal levels.

Schumer attempted to use the failed vote to draw a sharp distinction between Democrats and Republicans' stances on abortion ahead of the November elections.

"The contrast is pretty obvious," Schumer told reporters after the vote.

"Elect more MAGA Republicans if you want there to be a nationwide abortion ban," he continued. "Elect more pro-choice Democrats, if you want to see the right to choose, a woman's freedom available" across the country.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington sat stoically on the Senate floor as the vote took place.

"I am angry, and I am disappointed," she told reporters.

"I say to women across America, like me and so many others, now is not the time to back down, or sit down," Murray said. "Now is the time to lift up our voices and fight back. And that's exactly what we're going to do."

Before the vote, dozens of House Democrats, led by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Pro Choice Caucus, and the Democratic Women's Caucus, marched over to the Senate in a show of support for abortion rights.

The Senate previously failed to advance the Women's Health Protection Act in February. The House passed its version of the bill in September. President Joe Biden has expressed his support for the legislation and has called on Congress to send him a bill to codify Roe.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision on the major abortion-rights case by late June or early July. If Roe is overturned, 13 states with so-called trigger laws would ban abortion, and several other GOP-led states are expected to impose restrictions on the procedure.

Read the original article on Business Insider