McConnell tried to tamp down GOP talk of passing a federal abortion ban. He failed

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Ever since the demise of Roe v. Wade was telegraphed by a Supreme Court draft opinion, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has sought to downplay the substance of the ruling.

McConnell immediately instructed his caucus to focus their outrage on the unprecedented leak, but the reality is that McConnell no longer leads his caucus—he follows it. And after feigning indignation for about a day, Senate Republicans started coming clean about their ultimate destination: a national abortion ban.

Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota explained that if someone crossed state lines to have an abortion in Moorhead, Minnesota, he wouldn’t “find a lot of solace in that just because it didn’t happen in my state.”

“I think you could expect that pro-life activists would push for federal protections,” Cramer added. “I mean, I wouldn’t take that off the table.”


Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court’s leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast


Toward the end of the last week, McConnell had clearly concluded he had no choice but to admit his caucus is actively debating the possibility of passing a federal abortion ban if they retake the majority in November.

“If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies—not only at the state level but at the federal level—certainly could legislate in that area,” McConnell told USA Today in an interview published over the weekend.

“And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process,” he added. “So yeah, it’s possible. It would depend on where the votes were.”

“The votes” is where McConnell still hopes to temper the reality that Republicans ultimately hope to pass federal abortion restrictions.

McConnell—who summarily nuked the filibuster to place three right-wing judges on the Supreme Court—now wants Americans to believe that the 60-vote threshold imposed by the filibuster to pass legislation will serve as a buffer against such a ban.

Last Tuesday, McConnell promised he would “absolutely” protect the legislative filibuster.

We don’t want to break the Senate, and that’s breaking the Senate,” said McConnell, who already broke the Senate on his way to breaking the Supreme Court that is now forcing its fringe agenda on the American people.

In his interview with USA Today, McConnell repeated, “No carve out of the filibuster—period. For any subject.” (*Except his Supreme Court nominations.)

But as Law Professor Joyce White Vance pointed out, McConnell promised the National Right to Life Conference in 2014 that he would indeed push through abortion restrictions if Republicans retook the majority.

“We would have already had a vote,” McConnell told attendees at the conference before they reclaimed the Senate Majority later that year.  

Instead, McConnell used his majority to engineer a Supreme Court that would do his dirty work on abortion for him.

But once that abortion decision drops, likely declaring open season on abortion protections nationwide, the pressure on congressional Republicans for federal action will be enormous.

As Vance tweeted, “You don’t go halfway towards achieving your decades-long agenda & then quit when victory is in sight. McConnell will drive towards a national ban if he is in power after the midterms. Vote like your daughter’s life depends on it.”

If Republicans retake the House and Senate in November, they will surely make a push to pass a nationwide abortion ban—as they have promised their base for decades. If they somehow managed to succeed, President Joe Biden would surely veto it. But more likely, that initial federal push would just be a practice run for Republicans, biding their time until they have a GOP president in place who would sign the measure into law. That’s the point at which McConnell would pull the trigger on ending the filibuster. Until that time, he might just keep his powder dry in hopes that voters forget the Republican agenda awaiting them the next time the GOP takes full control of Washington.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.





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