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 GrahamThe Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war Graham leads Democratic challenger Harrison by 1 point in South Carolina: poll The Global Fragility Act provides the tools to address long-term impacts of COVID MORE (R-S.C.) and the other from Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP McConnell: 15-20 GOP senators will not vote for any coronavirus deal CNN chyron says 'nah' to Trump claim about Russia 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 CaseyThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Fred Upton says it is 'tragic' to see Americans reject masks, social distancing; Russia claims it will approve COVID-19 vaccine by mid-August People with disabilities see huge job losses; will pandemic roll back ADA gains? The Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (Pa.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs major conservation bill into law | Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official | Trump Jr. expresses opposition to Pebble Mine project Trump signs major conservation bill into law Overnight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response MORE (W.Va.) voting for it and GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsUnemployment debate sparks GOP divisions Obama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators holding behind-the-scenes talks on breaking coronavirus package stalemate Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official 300 green groups say Senate has 'moral duty' to reject Trump's public lands nominee 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 McConnellTrump's election delay red herring On The Money: Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions | Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs | Survey finds nearly one-third of rehired workers laid off again OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs major conservation bill into law | Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official | Trump Jr. expresses opposition to Pebble Mine project 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 SchumerChuck SchumerSchiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package Meadows: 'I'm not optimistic there will be a solution in the very near term' on coronavirus package Biden calls on Trump, Congress to enact an emergency housing program MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersLongtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTrump says government to review 5M Kodak loan deal Michelle Obama supporters urge Biden to pick former first lady as running mate On The Money: Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions | Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs | Survey finds nearly one-third of rehired workers laid off again 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.