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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted against moving forward on a bill that would have legalized the right to get an abortion, as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade in the coming weeks.
U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas voted against the bill, which failed to garner a simple majority because Senate Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia joined with the chamber's 50 Republicans to oppose it.
"It promotes abortion at a scale far beyond Roe v. Wade and far beyond what the vast majority of the American people are comfortable with," Cornyn said in Senate floor remarks ahead of the vote.
“It is a radical abortion bill, which sadly reflects where Democrats today are,” Cruz told Fox News over the weekend.
Democrats countered that abortion rights are accepted within the mainstream of American society.
"The legislation before this chamber is straightforward: It would codify what Americans already believe, that the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion belongs to women, not elected politicians," said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York.
The renewed urgency behind the vote comes a week after Politico reported on a leaked draft of a majority opinion overruling Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of the draft but cautioned that it does not necessarily reflect a final vote. If the high court does take action to end Roe, Texas has a “trigger law” that would ban the procedure in the state.
Democratic leaders say their priority is to put senators on the record on abortion, heading into the fall midterms.
“Every American will see how every senator stands,” Schumer said on Sunday, per Reuters.
Cornyn and Cruz have made their anti-abortion stances central to their political careers over the years. But ahead for them if Roe is overturned — particularly if Republicans take control of the Senate next year — is whether they would support a federal ban on abortion rather than leaving the issue to be decided by state legislatures.
“I don’t think it’s really an appropriate topic for Congress to be passing a national law on,” Cornyn said, according to CNN.
Cruz was less clear on a federal ban, telling NBC News that “contested policy issues” should be resolved through “democratically elected bodies.”
“I have supported numerous federal bills, and I’m sure there will be more pieces of federal legislation that are considered,” Cruz said.
In a sign of heightened tension surrounding the Politico revelations, Cornyn joined with Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons to push for a bill that would provide family members of U.S. Supreme Court justices with increased security protection. It passed unanimously.
In September 2021, the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act in reaction to the Texas law restricting abortion that went into effect on Sept. 1. That bill passed along party lines among Texas U.S. House members, with the exception of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat, who is the single anti-abortion member of his party in that chamber.
That bill failed a Senate procedural vote on Feb. 28, with Cruz and Cornyn in opposition to the legislation.
Disclosure: Politico has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
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