Once again, Senate Democrats tried to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act – a bill they say would “codify Roe.” Once again, they failed. Just like the last time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) must have known he didn’t have the votes – but, just like last time, he wanted to get everyone “on the record.” In other words … virtue signaling!
Mr. Schumer, as is his wont as senate majority leader, forced a vote on the Women’s Health Protection act and lost. For those thinking they may have seen this show before: Yes, it’s just reruns again. This seemingly doomed bill made it through the Democrat-led House of Representatives back in September of 2021, clearing with a more-or-less party-line vote of 218-211. When it came before the Senate vote to invoke cloture and end the filibuster, which requires the support of 60 senators, the bill managed just 46.
Now that there’s a leaked draft of a SCOTUS opinion out there to incite outrage and panic, Schumer and friends must have thought it the perfect opportunity to call a mulligan. This time the bill fared not much better, however. When all was said and done, all 50 Republicans and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted not to end the filibuster, leaving the WHPA high and dry once again.
What’s a Majority?
When last this bill failed in the Senate, President Joe Biden, Sen. Schumer, and other high-profile Democrats bemoaned the evils of the filibuster. How else could a minority kill the will of the majority? The same hue and cry arose when Build Back Better went bust. The truth of the matter, however, is that Democrats don’t hold a majority in the upper chamber; they hold, at best, a tie. It only becomes something like a “majority” when the vote falls 50-50, and Vice President Kamala Harris gets to weigh in. Even when that happens – and it does happen frequently on budget reconciliation issues or confirmation votes – it still isn’t the majority emerging victorious. It’s just the slightly more powerful half doing so.
But a stronger majority is needed to either end a filibuster or kill the tactic entirely – what we might call a “legislative majority” of 60. Much time is spent railing against Sen. Manchin for siding with the Republicans – or even Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) for failing to support the WHPA as pro-abortion Republicans. In fact, all three of them leaving the actual majority – the 51 who voted against ending the filibuster – wouldn’t have changed a thing.
As for nuking the filibuster permanently, Manchin isn’t the only Democrat who refuses to cross that line. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) stood firm with Manchin in defending the rule, but their outspokenness allowed other Dems to fly under the radar. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) never fully committed to Schumer’s desire to end the filibuster back in January, and he was saved from having to formally log his final decision in vote form. Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) were all also at least uneasy about it, and it’s unclear whether each would toe the party line on this issue.
What Is Truth?
Perhaps when Democrat leaders talk about their Senate majority, they really mean that they have a majority in Washington. That, at least, is true, thanks to their control of the other half of Congress and the White House. But for those who “live their own truths” and for whom the ends always justify the means, truth is what you make it.
On the other side of the divide, the truth is that the WHPA doesn’t just take the practical effect of Roe v. Wade and codify it into federal law. Consider the state laws that have been upheld by the courts over the years as Roe compliant, before Donald Trump managed to appoint three SCOTUS justices. Even before the Roe trigger bans, many states required mandatory waiting periods, exams, sonograms, in-person administration of the pill in the case of medicinal abortions, and mandatory parental notification when minors are involved. This and more the Women’s Health Protection Act would eliminate.
And that’s precisely why even the pro-abortion Republicans in the Senate voted not to invoke cloture on this – not once, but twice. Make no mistake: This isn’t about “protecting Roe.” Mr. Schumer and his comrades would love to pass progressively more abortion-friendly laws at the national level, of course. But this is really about making a show of it. With the midterms coming, Sen. Schumer can point to who is “on the record” in support of “women’s rights” and who isn’t. Never let the truth get in the way of a good narrative – especially in campaign season.