Supreme Court’s Roe reversal reshapes Democrats’ battle to keep Congress



Supreme Court’s Roe reversal reshapes Democrats’ battle to keep Congress

“There’s no question that this is a central issue that will be on the minds of voters,” Peters said.

After the long GOP campaign to install a conservative majority and overturn Roe was successful, Friday amounted to a gut-check moment for a Democratic Party that now must begin its own long-term effort to reexpand abortion access. What’s more, the decision drowned out House approval of the Senate’s gun safety bill, one of the party’s biggest accomplishments in years.

In the wake of the decision, Democratic candidates in Senate races railed against the filibuster, hoping to expand their majority next year and codify Roe into law by tearing down the Senate’s 60-vote requirement to pass most bills. But that push would be moot without keeping House control, and the decision to unravel a nationwide right to abortion access breathed new life into Democrats’ long-shot campaign to keep the lower chamber.

And in the battleground state of Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood clinics shut down abortion access at least temporarily after the decision because of a state-level criminal law, crystallizing the stakes of that state’s Senate race.

“This is now a reality. I mean, our clinics are no longer performing abortion, so women have to travel elsewhere,” said state treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who’s seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) this fall. “We should have codified this a long time ago. And I think what it comes down to is that we need more pro-choice Democratic women because they would prioritize getting this done.”

Democrats on Capitol Hill have prepared for this moment for weeks. The party’s senators held a special caucus meeting on Thursday ahead of the expected court decision while House Democrats had their own discussion a day earlier.

“This is bigger than gas prices now. This is bigger than inflation,” said Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas), whose home state now has an almost total abortion ban. He offered a preview of Democrats’ midterm message: “You’re going to see them go after contraception now. You’re going to see them go after basic fundamental rights.”

The Senate failed to pass a bill expanding abortion rights last month after POLITICO published a draft majority opinion that pointed to Friday’s Roe ruling, and many Democrats are not eager to replay those votes. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said it isn’t necessary to put Republicans on the record again, since it’s clear “where Republicans are going to stand.”

Instead, she predicted the issue would be “galvanizing” in the midterms.

Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio.), who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, said “there’s no sense in” holding do-over votes on the abortion access bill, instead advising Democrats to focus their energy on getting out their base in November.

Democrats also don’t have the votes to weaken the filibuster at the moment due to resistance from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), both of whom support codifying Roe. Several Senate candidates, like Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), vowed they’d be the additional votes to gut the filibuster.

“Sinema is part of the problem. Manchin’s part of the problem. Schumer’s part of the problem, if they don’t let the filibuster go down,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who has threatened to primary Sinema from the left in 2024.

Still, weakening the 60-vote threshold could also allow Republicans to pass national restrictions once they retake power. In the past, the GOP has sought a national 20-week abortion ban.

While party leaders have long geared up for this outcome, they’ve mostly focused on how to channel voters’ anger into turnout. Just a handful of seats in the House and Senate may determine who controls Congress next year, though Democrats’ prospects of holding on to the House in particular are fading by the week.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, House Democrats’ campaign chief, said “for millions of Americans, I think they are going to be getting a clear picture of the choice in November.”

Abortion access is a particularly salient topic in states where it could now be at immediate risk following the decision. Many of those include key battleground districts: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Virginia and Wisconsin. Incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) said laws already on the books in his state “are leaving many Arizonans frustrated and scared.”

“We’re going to have many, many states, and Pennsylvania could easily be one of them, where the government is going to dictate women’s health care choices,” said Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), a battleground Democrat, who grew emotional as she spoke.

The contrasts between the parties, challengers and incumbents alike, are almost as stark as possible on abortion. Incumbent Senate Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Johnson in Wisconsin all hailed the Roe decision. Of those, Johnson is the most vulnerable of them; he has played down the politics of the decision in interviews. His opponents say they are determined to not let that happen.

Some Republicans hope the decision will stir the conservative base and remind voters why flipping the Senate is so important. But Democrats are optimistic it could help them in those races, as well as those of Kelly and Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

“Some of our battleground states also tend to be the most pro-choice states in the country,” Peters said in an interview, ticking off New Hampshire, Arizona and Nevada.

Republicans, meanwhile, are seeking to flip the question on Democrats, whose legislative vehicle of choice to codify Roe also expanded abortion rights in some circumstances. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has sought to portray many Democrats’ resistance to any limits on abortion as out of step with most Americans.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) predicted the decision would “really energize” Republicans, though he doubted whether abortion would supersede economic issues for many voters.

But House Democrats — whose campaign arm almost immediately began blasting battleground-district Republicans on abortion — said their recent polling shows most voters want at least some protections. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said “it is now a very powerful election issue. Not just for women.”

Marianne LeVine, Nicholas Wu and Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.


Soruce : https://www.politico.com/news/2022/06/24/abortion-ruling-reshapes-democrats-battle-to-keep-congress-00042287

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