Although he has been previously against “show votes” on measures that have little chance of passing, McConnell made his colleagues vote on the bills related to abortion, a divisive issue that Republicans are focusing on ahead of the 2020 elections.
Neither measure was expected to get the 60 votes needed to advance past the initial procedural hurdle.
“Today, every senator will be able to take a clear moral stand,” McConnell said Tuesday morning on the Senate floor. “We’ll have the chance to proceed to common sense legislation that would move our nation closer to the international mainstream with respect to defending innocent human life.”
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and takes aim at the 24-week threshold established by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide.
That bill failed 53-44. Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin of West Virginia backed the measure, while Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska opposed it.
The second bill, sponsored by Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, would require abortion providers to try to “preserve the life and health” of any infant born after a failed abortion, or face up to five years in prison.
After that bill failed to move forward after a 53-44 vote last year in the Senate, President Donald Trump falsely conflated the measure with infanticide, which is already illegal under federal law, and tweeted that Democrats “don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth.”
Critics of Sasse’s bill, versions of which have been introduced in several states, have argued it is unnecessary and that medical ethics require any health professional to take appropriate steps to save the life of any infant in such circumstances.
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Some Senators criticized McConnell‘s decision to allow a vote on the measures while blocking votes on hundr of other bills related to issues like gun control and election security. McConnell nicknamed himself the “Grim Reaper” because he has turned the Senate into a “graveyard” for hundr of proposals passed by the House.
“If my Democratic colleagues block the Senate from even proceeding to debate this legislation later today, the message they send will be chilling and clear: The radical demands of the far-left will drown out common sense and the views of most Americans,” McConnell said.
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The Trump administration has been vocal about being pro-life. His re-election campaign announced creation of a “Pro-Life Voices for Trump” coalition just hours before he became the first sitting president to appear in person “March for Life” rally in its 47-year history in January. The administration also often touts their nominations of conservative judges and allowing “states to defund Planned Parenthood.”
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted Tuesday that “Republicans continue to support important pro-life policies, Democrats are bowing to the most radical elements of their party refusing to protect babies still in their mother’s womb.”
Contributing: Billy Kobin, Courier Journal