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NotedDC — Dems vote on Roe with eye on midterms

Protesters are seen outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 after the leak of a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito preparing for the court to overturn Roe v. Wade later this year.
Greg Nash
Protesters are seen outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 after the leak of a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito preparing for the court to overturn Roe v. Wade later this year.

A bill to protect abortion rights is poised to fail in the Senate, though Democrats hope the vote Wednesday helps reinforce their pitch to Americans ahead of the midterms.

“[This vote] is the first step in our fight and to show American voters whose side their senators are on,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) told NotedDC.

“Anyone who votes against the Women’s Health Protection Act is saying that a woman or a girl who is the victim of rape or incest must carry that child to term.” 

And while Democrats hope efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade backfire on the GOP, Republican strategist Doug Heye said voters are still likely to focus on other issues that have contributed to President Biden’s near record-low approval rating.

CNN poll conducted after the Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe was leaked showed Republicans maintaining a 7-point lead over Democrats when voters were asked which party they would vote for in the midterms.

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A long-term strategy

Conservatives’ push to overturn Roe v. Wade, which they hope to be on the cusp of this year, follows a decades-long effort to install conservative judges on the bench. 

“Republicans have always taken judicial nominees and the control of the Supreme Court much more seriously than Democrats for reasons I never fully understood,” Democratic strategist Jim Manley told NotedDC.

When Republicans blocked then-President Obama’s Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland from being confirmed in 2016, the typically soft-spoken Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) urged her colleagues to fill the empty seat before the 2016 election.

She now maintains that “obstruction” was the GOP’s “long-term strategy” to overturn Roe v. Wade, since President Trump was then able to appoint Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — all of whom have reportedly signed onto the draft opinion that leaked earlier this month.

“All of a sudden you have a Court that is essentially a parcel of the Republican Party – the Trump-dominated Republican Party,” Baldwin told NotedDC. “Part of [the GOP] message was, you got to vote because presidents and senators have something to do with who’s sitting on our Supreme Court … And they made that link and it was probably for some voters the most important thing they thought about.”  

Manley said he hopes Wednesday’s vote in the Senate to codify abortion rights, even if doomed, will show the public where senators land on the issue and help “focus attention and remind Democrats of the need to get out and vote this November.”

Protests target justices in their neighborhoods

Americans angry at the potential overhaul of abortion rights have been protesting outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices for the past four days.

Protesters held a vigil outside of Justice Samuel Alito’s home Monday night in Northern Virginia with signs and banners. They also showed up in front of the homes of Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts in Maryland over the weekend. 

The Senate passed a bill Monday that would extend security protection to the justices’ family members, though protests don’t show any signs of slowing down.

ShutDownDC, the organizers of the vigil outside Alito’s home, tweeted Tuesday: “This evening the #SaveRoe drumbeat continues. We’ll post details soon but plan to be at the Capitol to witness the vote on the #WomensHealthProtectionAct.” 

The Hill’s Alex Gangitano and John Kruzel spoke to political analysts for their takes on whether protests could become violent amid outcry from politicians: Read here.

TRUMP LOOMS OVER PRIMARY DAY

Former President Trump is hoping to secure more political wins on Tuesday with candidates he has backed duking it out in primaries in Nebraska and West Virginia.

The states are holding the third round of nominating contests this year — following Texas, Ohio and Indiana — in the lead-up to the November midterms.

The winners will offer some clues on what we might expect to see this fall. The Hill’s Tal Axelrod has a rundown of the top five things to watch.

  • NEBRASKA: Trump-backed businessman Charles Herbster is locked in a tight GOP gubernatorial race against University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen (the favorite of outgoing Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts) and state Sen. Brett Lindstrom (backed by several local leaders). The winner Tuesday will be the clear favorite in November.
  • WEST VIRGINIAGOP Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney are in a battle to stay in Congress under a newly-consolidated district. It’s the first incumbent-vs.-incumbent GOP primary of the 2022 cycle. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) and Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat who is wildly popular in his home state, have thrown their support to McKinley, who has been in Congress since 2011. Trump, meanwhile, opted to endorse Mooney, who took office in 2015.

House Democrats’ campaign arm unionizes

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced Tuesday they have formed a union, now the largest collective bargaining unit in the Democratic Party. 

“Today’s voluntary recognition is a testament to our shared commitment to live the values we fight for – both at the ballot box and within our places of work,” DCCC executive director Tim Persico said in a statement

Why this mattersvia The Hill’s Tal Axelrod: “The Democratic Party has increasingly sought to cast itself as union-friendly after seeing an exodus of white voters without a college degree defect to former President Trump in 2016 and 2020.” 

What we are watching: The House is set to vote on Rep. Andy Levin’s (D-Mich.) resolution Tuesday night that would allow House staffers to unionize.

Biden’s new dig: ‘Ultra MAGA’

If you’ve listened to President Biden lately, it’s clear he has a new dis for his political adversaries.

“I never expected the Ultra-MAGA Republicans, who seem to control the Republican Party now, to have been able to control the Republican Party,” Biden said in a speech Tuesday.

He used the phrase “Ultra MAGA” while speaking to Democratic donors on Monday, too. And White House press secretary Jen Psaki also has invoked the label when talking about opponents of Biden’s agenda.

“It’s the president’s phrase,” Psaki told reporters Tuesday. She said that adding “ultra” to the abbreviation for former President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan gives the new label “a little extra pop.”

What does it mean? Psaki declined to answer questions about whether specific lawmakers deserve the label, but she said it applies to “a certain wing of the Republican Party” and specifically people who support very conservative views on taxes, Medicare and Social Security, and those who have pushed culture wars against Disney and books that are being banned from schools.

Another angle: Psaki said Biden views those who want to reverse Roe v. Wade as also part of the “Ultra MAGA,” because polls have shown that most Americans support the landmark Supreme Court ruling on abortion.

“If you’re on the other side of that you’re supporting an Ultra MAGA position and the President’s view,” she said.

An escalation: While Psaki wouldn’t go so far to specifically brand any lawmaker by name with the “Ultra MAGA” label, she repeatedly name-checked Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), pointing Scott’s policy proposal that includes a tax component that would increase income taxes for many Americans, particularly low-income households.  

Scott and Biden have been escalating their attacks on each other in recent days, with Scott calling Biden “unwell” and “unfit for office.” Biden blasted back to Scott on Tuesday, saying, “I think the man has a problem.” More on their spat here

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Tags 2022 midterms Biden Doug Heye Jim Manley Roe Roe v. Wade Tammy Baldwin

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