The Senate Will Vote on a Bill Creating a Federal Right to an Abortion, Schumer Says

Susan Davis / NPR
The Senate Will Vote on a Bill Creating a Federal Right to an Abortion, Schumer Says A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court early today in Washington. (photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the Senate will vote to codify the right to abortion into federal law, in response to a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

“A vote on this legislation is not an abstract exercise, this is as urgent and real as it gets,” Schumer said in a floor speech on Tuesday morning, following Politico’s Monday night reporting of the draft, which NPR has not been able to verify and could change before the final version comes out this summer. “We will vote to protect a woman's right to choose and every American is going to see which side every senator stands.”

Any such vote would be symbolic. Democrats control the Senate but only hold half the seats, and they can’t muster the 60-vote supermajority needed to pass the law that Schumer suggested.

Some senators, including Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have called to eliminate the filibuster’s supermajority rules to pass a law to protect abortion rights with a simple majority vote. Democrats do not have the support from within the party for such a tactical move, as two centrist senators — Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — are opposed to changing any filibuster rules without bipartisan support.

During his floor speech, Schumer made a plea to Americans to lobby their members of Congress in support of abortion rights.

“To the American people, I say this: the elections this November will have consequences because the rights of 100 million women are now on the ballot. To help fight this court's awful decision, I urge every American to make their voices heard this week and this year,” he said.

Schumer also repeated his accusation that conservative justices “lied” to the Senate in the course of their confirmations regarding their views on whether the Roe decision was settled precedent. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has denounced the leak but not commented on substance of the apparent draft decision, which could change before the Supreme Court officially issues its ruling.

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