Democrats block two Senate abortion bills

Democrats block two Senate abortion bills
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats blocked two abortion-related bills on Tuesday as Republicans look to weaponize the issue ahead of the 2020 elections.

Democrats blocked two measures — one from Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill UN biodiversity chief calls for international ban of 'wet markets' Graham asks colleagues to support call for China to close wet markets MORE (R-S.C.) and the other from Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseAmerica's governors should fix unemployment insurance Mnuchin emerges as key asset in Trump's war against coronavirus House Republican urges Pompeo to take steps to limit misinformation from China on coronavirus MORE (R-Neb.) — from getting the 60 votes needed to overcome an initial procedural hurdle. 

The legislation from Graham would ban abortions after 20 weeks with exceptions for the life of the mother and victims of rape or incest. Doctors who violate the bill could face up to five years in prison.  

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The second bill, from Sasse, would penalize doctors who fail to "exercise the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion."

Graham's bill failed in a 53-44 vote, with Democratic Sens. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenate Democrats propose ,000 hazard-pay plan for essential workers Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus Democratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers MORE (Pa.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPoliticians mourn the death of Bill Withers Pressure mounts for national parks closure amid coronavirus White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package MORE (W.Va.) voting for it and GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPresident tightens grip on federal watchdogs The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump gets new press secretary in latest shake-up Trump takes heat for firing intel watchdog during pandemic MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiLawmakers announce legislation to fund government purchases of oil Oil giants meet at White House amid talk of buying strategic reserves GOP senators begin informal talks on new coronavirus stimulus MORE (Alaska) voting against it.

Sasse's bill failed 56-41, with Casey, Manchin and Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) voting for it.

Neither bill was expected to pass despite Republican control of the Senate. But the decision to force the vote allows Republicans to try to put Jones on the record ahead of his tough reelection battle in November, and highlight tensions among Democrats, who are divided on if the party should include anti-abortion members.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting Overnight Health Care: Trump calls report on hospital shortages 'another fake dossier' | Trump weighs freezing funding to WHO | NY sees another 731 deaths | States battle for supplies | McConnell, Schumer headed for clash Phase-four virus relief hits a wall MORE (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats for opposing the bills, arguing it demonstrates the party moving to the left.

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"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," he said ahead of the vote.

McConnell's staff also blasted out a round up of abortion-related comments from Democrats, including Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHealth care workers account for 20 percent of Iowa coronavirus cases Pressure mounts on Congress for quick action with next coronavirus bill Schumer names coronavirus czar candidates in plea to White House MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDrugmaker caps insulin costs at to help diabetes patients during pandemic The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic Sen. Brown endorses Biden for president MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds MORE (D-Mass.), who are both running for the party's presidential nomination. 

The votes come days before GOP activists are expected to descend on the D.C. region for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. 

Democrats argue the two bills would curb women's reproductive rights. They blocked similar legislation from Graham in 2018, and Sasse's bill last year. 

Schumer called the proposals "divisive anti-choice, anti-women [and] anti-family" measures.

"Republicans have chosen once again to play politics on the Senate floor. Leader McConnell should stop wasting the few votes he does schedule with these shameless political stunts, and instead bring legislation to the floor that would actually improve the health care of the American people, and of American women in particular," he said.