“I don’t think there’s an appetite for a national platform here. My state, today, is working on this. I’m not sure what you’re thinking here. But I don’t think there is a mobilization around that concept,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Captain (RW.Virginia). “I don’t think there’s much desire to go in that direction.”
Graham’s earlier arguments for a 20-week abortion ban drew support from most Republicans and even votes from some Senate Democrats. His latest effort would leave state laws in place that are even more restrictive while imposing new limits on blue states that currently have none. Arriving less than 60 days before the midterms, he has rankled some Republicans, who are seeing their once-commanding poll lead shrink since the election. Roe investment.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said questions about the bill should be directed to Graham and that most Republican senators “prefer this to be handled at the state level.” Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) suggested that Graham had gotten a little fractious with his latest legislation: “That was not a conference decision. It was the decision of an individual senator.”
“Obviously there is a division of opinion in terms of whether the abortion law should be decided by the states … and those who want to establish some kind of minimum standard,” Cornyn said of the 50-member Senate Republican conference. “I would keep an open mind on this, but I would prefer those decisions to be made on a state-by-state basis.”
Graham’s bill bans the procedure nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a priority of many prominent anti-abortion activists who have been demanding a much more aggressive response from the GOP. It includes exceptions for rape, incest, and pregnancies that threaten maternal health.
While public polls show majority opposition to the June Supreme Court decision, they also show support for some limits on abortion. Republicans have often dodged questions about their positions by drawing attention to Democrats, who generally don’t support legislative limits on pregnancy terminations.
“There is a consensus view among America’s most prominent pro-life groups that this is where America should be at the federal level,” Graham said. “I don’t think this is going to hurt us. I think it will most likely hurt [Democrats] when they try to explain to a reasonable person why it’s okay to be more like Iran and less like France when it comes to abortion.”
Senate Republicans did not address the issue at their strategy lunch Tuesday, according to attendees.
However, the bill could cause especially acute problems for the party’s Senate hopefuls. McConnell said he trusted each individual candidate to gauge his own positions.
Several Republican campaigns did not immediately respond to questions about Graham’s bill, but Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia, said he would back the legislation.
“Raphael Warnock wants to protect the slaughter of babies until the moment of birth. We need to do better,” Walker said in a statement to POLITICO. “I am a proud pro-life Christian, and I will always stand up for our unborn children. I think the issue should be decided at the state level, but I WOULD SUPPORT this policy.”
Others, however, stay away. A spokeswoman for Washington GOP Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley said she opposes Graham’s bill and believes states should decide their abortion laws. And Colorado Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea has made it clear that he, too, does not support the bill as he faces the Senator. miguel bennett (D-Colo.) in the Democratic-leaning state.
“A Republican ban is as reckless and deaf as Joe Biden and Chuck SchumerHostility “toward” the compromise, said O’Dea, who said she supports protecting access to abortion early in pregnancies and applying “sensible limits” to later procedures.
Several Republican senators said they are largely uninterested in backing the bill at a critical time in the Senate battle. Republicans are in the minority in the chamber right now, meaning they couldn’t force a vote even if they wanted to. Even if they did, he doesn’t have anywhere near the 60 votes to pass the Senate.
Senator Thomas Tillis (RN.C.) called it a “messenger bill” in the current dynamic, one that doesn’t address the big issues Republicans are trying to address in the midterms.
“What I want to do is have a discussion about the inflation numbers today and a number of other things that I think will have an election consequence,” said Tillis, who supported Graham’s earlier 20-week abortion ban.
Even among Republicans who personally support the bill, some say it’s a potential distraction from their post-Roe-investment strategy. Since the Supreme Court’s decision, Republicans in both houses have stuck to a carefully honed message: It’s up to individual states to decide their abortion policies.
However, anti-abortion activists demand more. In a letter sent to legislators on Monday, dozens of groups called for “important federal policies” including “gestation limits” and “addressing dangerous chemical abortion by mail,” issues on which GOP leaders have said little since the high court ruling.
Instead, many in the GOP have fretted over what they see as a more urgent task: ensuring their candidates can withstand the wave of Democratic anti-abortion attacks now dominating the airwaves.
While Republicans have opposed abortion as a formal party stance for decades, many of their candidates are often forced to address more narrow political questions, such as whether rape survivors should have access to abortions. Several Republican hopefuls have stumbled on that during the current cycle, and the Democrats have gone on the offensive since the Roe decision.
Senator gary peters (D-Mich.), who chairs the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, said “it’s great that [Republicans are] showing the American people that he is really focused on taking away a fundamental right.” Across the Capitol, however, the House GOP campaign manager insisted that abortion would not be the dominant issue in November.
Democrats “don’t have a message right now,” the representative said. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said. He accused Democrats of supporting abortion access legislation that he called a “Chinese genocide” bill that would allow abortion up to the moment “a child takes its first breath.”
“I call it the Chinese Genocide Bill because the only two countries with a radical position on abortion like that are China and North Korea,” Emmer added.
A spokesman for the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee clarified that Emmer’s comment was in reference to the Democrats’ party-line abortion rights bill. That Democrat bill expands access in certain cases as it seeks to codify Roe; it does not directly allow unimpeded late-term abortion.
Emmer’s reference confused his Democratic counterpart as campaign manager, the Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (DN.Y.).
“It’s not Chinese genocide, or whatever, to say we want to get reproductive freedom back,” Maloney said. “I mean, what the hell is he talking about?”