The bill’s failure to advance is set to underscore how tightly Democrats are in what they can achieve with a narrow majority in the Senate even as the party faces enormous pressure to take action on abortion rights amid fears Roe v. Wade will soon be toppled. But holding the vote would give Democrats an opportunity to highlight the issue and criticize Republicans’ resistance to passing the legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the vote one of the “most important” senators, “not just in this session, but in this century.”
“This is not an abstract exercise, it is as real and urgent as it is,” Schumer said at a news conference Friday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has criticized Democrats for forcing a vote this week to legalize Roe v. Wade, arguing that it would “attack the conscience rights and religious liberties of Americans.”
“It would overwhelmingly overturn modest and popular safeguards such as waiting periods, informed consent laws, and possibly even parental notification,” McConnell said of the Democrats’ bill in remarks in the Senate on Monday.
So far, Manchin hasn’t said how he plans to vote on the Democrats’ bill when it comes to a vote this week. On Tuesday, he indicated he was still thinking about how to vote. “We’ve got some information. We’re going to have a lawyer sitting down,” Manchin told reporters at the Capitol.
Asked at a news conference Friday why he would instead refuse to bring the Collins and Murkowski bill to the floor, which could have bipartisan support, Schumer said, “We’re not looking to compromise on something as vital as this.”
Earlier this week, more than a dozen abortion rights groups wrote a letter staunchly opposed to the Murkowski and Collins bill, saying it “would not protect the right to abortion if Roe v. Wade was overturned.”
Democrats sounded the alarm and responded with anger in response to a recently leaked draft Supreme Court opinion revealing plans to drop Roe v. Wade after nearly five decades.
Republicans, despite many opponents of abortion rights, instead focused their response on the sudden leak of the Supreme Court’s opinion, arguing that the leak itself posed a major threat to judicial independence and freedom from outside interference.
CNN’s Ted Barrett and Manu Raju contributed.