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 GrahamKyrsten Sinema's courage, Washington hypocrisy and the politics of rage Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two McConnell will run for another term as leader despite Trump's attacks MORE (R-S.C.) and the other from Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseSinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform Democrats outraged after Manchin opposes Biden spending bill Senate confirms Rahm Emanuel to be ambassador to Japan 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 CaseyOn the Money — Inflation hits highest level in decades Pressures aligning on Biden, Democrats to forgive student loans Senate Democrats grow less confident in Manchin MORE (Pa.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPelosi suggests filibuster supporters 'dishonor' MLK's legacy on voting rights Sanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Martin Luther King III: Biden, senators need to use same energy to pass voting rights as they did for infrastructure MORE (W.Va.) voting for it and GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsVoting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities More than 30 million families to lose child tax credit checks starting this weekend Sinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann Murkowski​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Clyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump 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 McConnell​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Hogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities MORE (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats for opposing the bills, arguing it demonstrates the party moving to the left.

"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 SchumerChuck SchumerKelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race Hundreds attend mass funeral for victims of Bronx apartment building fire Romney: I never got a call from White House to discuss voting rights MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Hispanic Caucus lawmaker won't attend meeting with VP Harris's new aide The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness We are America's independent contractors, and we are terrified Fed's Brainard faces GOP pressure on climate stances 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.