A day before Democrats held 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 a to issue an abortion ban if it took control in November’s midterm elections.
“Historically, there have been votes on abortion in the Senate. None of them got 60 votes,” Mitch McConnell told reporters.
“I think it’s safe to say that there aren’t 60 votes at the federal level, no matter who’s in the majority, whoever’s in the White House.”
The chamber is split 50-50 and is therefore controlled by the casting vote of the vice president, Kamala Harris. Democrats and progressives have urged the party to abolish the filibuster, the Senate rule that requires 60 votes for most legislation.
Such a reform seems unlikely. With opposition from key Democrats, Punchbowl News, a Washington outlet, reported Wednesday that the issue hadn’t even been discussed at a Senate party luncheon the day before.
When Donald Trump was in power, McConnell also came under pressure to scrap the filibuster to advance the Republican agenda.
On Tuesday, the Kentucky senator told reporters that there are “no issues that Republicans believe should be exempted from the 60-vote threshold.”
The measure before the Senate on Wednesday — for which Democrats have less than 50 votes, opposed by some in their own party and pro-choice Republicans — is the Women’s Health Protection Act. It would codify Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling protecting the right to abortion.
Roe has been under imminent threat since last week when a draft Supreme Court ruling leaked out overturning it, reportedly backed by five conservative judges.
On Wednesday, Politico, which published the leak, said Samuel Alito’s draft ruling is still the only one in circulation, and is expected to be published in June.
The Democratic Senate vote comes in response to protests that have proliferated since the draft decision was published. Many Republican-led states have trigger laws poised to ban abortion at various stages should Roe fall.
McConnell said, “If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, certainly legislators — not only at the state level but also at the federal level — could legislate in that area.”
A total ban on abortion would be possible, he said.
Polls show a consistent majority for abortion rights, but Republicans say they doubt the issue will harm them in the midterm elections in November.
McConnell’s deputy, John Thune of South Dakota, told the Hill, “Our members will continue to hammer on inflation, the economy, the border, crime.”
Democrats hope Wednesday’s vote will be politically useful.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York told reporters, “Every senator will have to vote, and every American will see how they voted. And I believe the Republican party … will suffer electorally if the American people do that.” sees.”
Jackie Rosen, of Nevada, said: “We need to address that fear, we need to take the anger we feel, turn it into action to defend our majority. You need to elect more pro-choice senators. We do not live in a hypothetical state.”