If They Won’t Support A Carve-Out For The Senate Filibuster Rule, It’s Just A Political Stunt

The media villagers breathlessly reported this morning that a bipartisan bill has been introduced to guarantee abortion rights in all 50 states. See, the New York Times for example, Bipartisan Abortion-Rights Bill Sets Up a Midterm Debate:

A bipartisan group of senators released a bill on Monday that would create a federal baseline for abortion access, the first bipartisan legislative effort on the issue since the Supreme Court struck down the Roe v. Wade ruling that established abortion rights nationwide.

The bill — a joint effort of Democrats Tim Kaine of Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona and Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska [August 16 primary] — is a way for members of both parties to frame the stakes of the issue ahead of the midterm congressional elections. Recent public polls have shown some voters are alarmed about the erosion of abortion rights.

The key passage:

The legislation has little chance of advancing in the evenly divided Senate, where it lacks the 60 votes that would be needed move forward.

In other words, this is just a gimmick. It is a political stunt. Unless these senators are willing to vote for a carve-out of the Senate filibuster rule for fundamental constitutional rights, they are not actually doing anything.

These senators want credit for simply intoducing the bill, and the media villagers will all wet their pants over the “bipartisanship,”  but the reality is they are not actually doing anything if they are unwilling to end their unprincipled support for the archaic anti-democratic Senate filibuster rule which they hold more dear than the fundamental constitutional rights of American women.

Lookin’ at you, Senator Sinema. Sorry, you don’t get any credit for a political stunt.

Jessica Corbett writes, Collins-Murkowski abortion bill denounced as ‘just another political stunt’:

As GOP-led states continue working to further restrict reproductive freedom in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s late June ruling, some progressive advocates on Monday responded critically to the introduction of bipartisan abortion rights legislation.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) introduced the Reproductive Freedom for All Act, which they claim “would undo the damage of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America president Mini Timmaraju declared that “this bill is just another political stunt that would not actually address the abortion rights and access crisis that has pushed care out of reach for millions of people already.”

“Unless these senators are willing to end the filibuster to pass this measure, there’s no reason to take it seriously,” Timmaraju added.

According to the co-sponsors, the Reproductive Freedom for All Act would:

Prohibit state regulations that impose an undue burden on a woman’s access to pre-viability abortions, while allowing states to enact reasonable restrictions on post-viability abortions—provided that states cannot ban abortions that are necessary to protect the life or health of the mother;Protect access to contraceptives; andPreserve conscience protections.

It won’t do any of these things if they cannot pass the bill in the Senate because of the archaic anti-democratic Senate filibuster rule, which the three female senators support (Tim Kaine earlier this year supported reforming the filibuster rule to a “talking filibuster,” forcing the minority to hold the floor in debate, when the several voting rights bills were filibustered by Republicans).

Reminder: Emily’s List, NARAL pull support of Sinema over opposition to changing filibuster:

Emily’s List, a national group that supports female Democratic candidates who back abortion rights, announced it had pulled support for Sinema in a statement Thursday.

“We believe the decision by Sen. Sinema is not only a blow to voting rights and our electoral system but also to the work of all the partners who supported her victory and her constituents who tried to communicate the importance of this bill,” said Emily’s List president Laphonza Butler.

As a result of her vote, Butler said, Emily’s List “will no longer be able to endorse Sen. Sinema moving forward.”

The organization was Sinema’s biggest donor in 2018, contributing over $405,000, according to OpenSecrets.

Separately, NARAL Pro-Choice America, another key funder for candidates who support abortion rights, said in a tweet Thursday, it would only endorse senators “who support changing the Senate rules to pass the critical legislation that will protect voting rights.”

“There’s no reproductive freedom without the freedom to vote. With both freedoms at stake, we’re changing our endorsement criteria,” said NARAL.

NARAL endorsed Sinema during her run for the Senate in 2018. As of Thursday, Sinema was not listed under endorsements on its website.

Both groups had issued warnings to Sinema earlier this week amid her refusal to back changes to the Senate rules to ease passage of the voting rights bills.

NARAL noted that in February, then again in May—after a draft of the Dobbs decision leaked—both Collins and Murkowski refused to support the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), a Democrat-led bill to codify Roe, the 1973 decision that affirmed the constitutional right to abortion until it was recently overturned by the high court’s far-right majority.

At least 10 Republican senators would have to join with the Democratic caucus to pass a bill, due to the filibuster rule that is backed by not only the GOP, but also Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who notably opposed WHPA.

“Senate Republicans have been crystal clear about where they stand on abortion,” NARAL said, pointing out that ahead of the Dobbs ruling, “47 GOP senators signed onto amicus briefs calling on the court to end” Roe.

Collins and Murkowski also helped shift the U.S. Supreme Court to the right during former President Donald Trump’s tenure. Though Murkowski voted present rather than to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Collins voted against confirming Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Murkowski backed Barrett, Collins supported Kavanaugh, and they both voted for Justice Neil Gorsuch.

As The Washington Post reported Monday:

It’s not clear that Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) would bring up the bill for a vote ahead of the midterm elections in November. There has been disagreement in the Democratic caucus on whether a bipartisan bill that has no chance of passage should be brought forward, which would make it more difficult for Democratic candidates to contrast themselves with Republicans. And many Democrats, Kaine said, would prefer the Democratic version of the bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act, which includes fewer limitations on abortion.

Kaine calls the bill the bare minimum.

“What the four of us were trying to do was put a statutory minimum in place that replicated what the law was a day before Dobbs,” he said.

The Post noted that Kaine also admitted their proposal does not have the support of 10 Republican senators.

Last week, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) blocked the Right to Contraception Act. Because Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) tried to pass the House-approved bill by unanimous consent, other GOP senators were not required to weigh in.

We have a senator who is practiced at political stunts, and who plays to the media’s bias for the mythical “bipartisanship,” but Sen. Sinema is not someone who gets shit done in Washington.

If Sen. Sinema ever dropped her unprincipled support for the archaic anti-democratic Senate Filibuster rule, she could actually get a lot of shit done. And isn’t that what Arizonans sent her there to do?

1 thought on “If They Won’t Support A Carve-Out For The Senate Filibuster Rule, It’s Just A Political Stunt”

  1. As Jennifer Rubin argues, if “Manchin’s bill requires 50 votes. Defending constitutional rights should, too.”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/02/joe-manchin-reconciliation-bill-makes-case-for-filibuster-reform/

    Since Republicans won’t cooperate, Democrats must move ahead with the reconciliation process — a gigantic loophole in the allegedly sacrosanct filibuster rules. Huge policy goals can be achieved even though the other side willfully obstructs progress.

    Why, then, do Manchin and others cling so tightly to the filibuster rules when equally important — if not more important — policy goals are up for discussion, such as on abortion rights, voting rights and reforming the Supreme Court? It’s tautology to say that the reconciliation process applies only to tax and spending rules under limited circumstances. Why should items not directly tied to spending have to be stripped out of legislation?

    Democrats can leave the filibuster in place if they must but can simply alter the Senate’s “Byrd rules” governing reconciliation bills so that measures pertaining to the restoration or protection of fundamental rights can be included. An infrastructure bill could also include “democracy infrastructure” that protects voting rights. The same limit on reconciliation legislation (once or twice per fiscal year) could still apply.

    Manchin’s current legislative effort highlights just how hypocritical he is for opposing filibuster fixes. Indeed, he has relied on demonstrably false premises to defend his position. [As has Sen. Sinema.]

    [I] don’t expect Manchin to acknowledge his intellectual dishonesty and blatant inconsistency. But that doesn’t mean the rest of his party has to go along. If voters send two more Democrats to the Senate and somehow hold the House (if not in 2022, then win it back in 2024), they should consider using their power to secure fundamental constitutional rights that the Supreme Court has stripped away.

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