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McConnell forces Senate votes on anti-abortion bills

POLITICO logo POLITICO 2/13/2020 By Burgess Everett
Mitch McConnell wearing a suit and tie: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. © Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Mitch McConnell on Thursday set up two votes on anti-abortion bills for later this month, a move intended to excite conservatives and put a vulnerable Senate Democrat in a difficult position.

The Senate majority leader teed up votes on a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks and also the "Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act." Both bills have been rejected by the Senate in recent years after failing to clear the chamber's 60-vote threshold. But forcing votes on them in an election year could help boost enthusiasm on the right for keeping the Senate in Republican hands.

Democrats generally oppose the 20-week abortion ban, though Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) have supported it in the past. GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who is up for reelection this year, have opposed it. That measure failed in 2018.

The other legislation would require medical care be delivered to infants that survive abortions and is viewed by Democrats as unnecessary and misleading, given that infanticide is already a crime. Manchin, Casey and Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), the most endangered Senate Democrat, all supported it last year along with all Senate Republicans.

McConnell has typically shied away from holding “show votes” on the Senate floor that are clearly doomed but give senators a chance to show their position. But he has made an exception for abortion legislation given the support of social conservatives. Plus, McConnell's up for re-election this year too.

The Senate will likely take up the proposals when it returns from next week's President's Day recess.

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