Senate Democrats return to abortion as disarray over Biden lingers

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Senate Democrats are hoping to take the spotlight away from the party division over President Joe Biden’s political future and put it back on a contentious election-year matter: Abortion.

“This week, Senate Democrats intend to pick up where we left off in June by bringing every single member of this chamber to task on a woman’s fundamental right to choose,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Tuesday.

A trio of Democrats sought to greenlight three separate bills via unanimous consent that would have expanded access to abortion in a post-Roe era. They were individually blocked by Sens. Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ted Budd (R-NC), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS).

On Wednesday, Democrats will hold a vote on legislation to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law to reinstate national abortion access, which will also fail. In recent months, the Democratic-led Senate has also unsuccessfully tried to approve other reproductive health-related bills on contraception and in vitro fertilization.

The most recent measures mark the latest efforts by Senate Democrats to showcase their policy differences with Republicans heading into the November elections. But they also come as congressional Democrats have been thrust into turmoil with questions over Biden’s viability as the party’s presidential nominee due to signs of aging and a decline in mental acuity that were laid bare at his debate against former President Donald Trump.

Many House and Senate Democrats have stopped short of saying Biden should withdraw from the race, but they emphasize he must do more to show he’s up to the task of defeating Trump and serving a second term that would last until he is 86 years old. Seven House Democrats say Biden should call it quits and not run for reelection.

The three Senate bills put forward Tuesday would have safeguarded travel across state lines for abortion, shielded doctors with legal immunity, and trained more healthcare professionals to perform abortions. They were proposed for unanimous passage by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).

Baldwin is up for reelection in the battleground state of Wisconsin, and Murray chairs the chamber’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

“There is no right too basic for Republicans to attack,” Murray said.

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In their Senate floor objections, the Republican senators argued the proposals would have illegally funded abortions with taxpayer funds and created “abortion on demand,” as Budd put it. The Democratic senators denied such claims.

“I was elected to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, including for life to the unborn, but this bill puts more unborn lives in danger,” Budd said.

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