In the fallout of the leak of the Alito first draft overturning Roe v Wade, the GOP doesn’t know whether to shit, go blind, or wind its watch. They want to talk about anything else. McConnell didn’t want to talk about the leaked draft, he wanted to talk about the fact of the leak. Calgary Cruz wants the miscreant thrown into Guantanamo, although there don’t appear to be any actual laws that were broken. They’ll talk about anything but the content of the draft.
Except for two GOP Senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. They’re willing to talk about the actual content of the draft. And they’re furious about it. For the moment, I’ll take their word for it. After all, both are pro choice Republicans, who have been elected to multiple terms, so they appear to be in touch with their constituents.
The source of their outrage isn’t in the content of the draft, but that it exists at all. Both of them interviewed Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett in their offices prior to confirmation votes, and both specifically asked about Roe. Murkowski used the word betrayal in describing their response to her as opposed to their actual votes and position. And Collins feels that the was lied to right in her face by the responses she received from the three.
Right now, both of them are not only highly pissed, they’re apparently pissed enough to take action. Both Collins as well as Murkowski, who both voted NO on the House passed abortion rights bill when it came to the floor, have said that they’re both going to take another thorough look at it before Schumer brings it back to the floor for a procedural vote on Wednesday, and may support it.
This is nice, as far as it goes, but it’s a purely ceremonial move, a public act of protest and defiance. Because the Democrats need 60 votes to bring the vote to the floor, and there’s no way they’re going to find 8 more Republicans to join them, no matter how hard they lobby their caucus. The real question is, how serious are they? How firm are their pro choice convictions?
Both women seem sincere in their position and beliefs. But they’re about to have a moment of clarity, and a check of moral compass and loyalty to a position. How sincere are they about a woman’s right to choose regarding her own body. And they have the guts, there is something they can actually do, besides post a protest vote.
If they’re sincere and committed, they can quietly contact Chuck Schumer and tell him, before he calls the bill up for the procedural vote, call a motion to the floor to carve an exemption to the filibuster rule on the issue of abortion. Manchin and Sinema are automatic NO’s, but if the rest of the Democrats are united, and why wouldn’t they be, considering the polling on the issue, Vice President Harris could cast the tie breaking vote, allowing the bill to go to the floor.
And if they’re going to buck the party and vote to carve out an exception to the filibuster, why not go all-in to pass the bill itself when it comes up for a vote. Manchin and Sinema may vote YES once the filibuster isn’t an issue, and who knows, other vulnerable GOP Senators may vote YES, since they’re not going to be the goats.
To be sure, this is a risk for both of them, but more so for Murkowski. Collins was reelected in 2020, so she’s not on the ballot again until 2026, another midterm election. Murkowski is on the ballot this year, but remember, she won as a write-in candidate in 2016 after losing a low turnout primary to a Trumbie. And as I said, both have run as pro choice Republicans repeatedly and won. Considering the national polling, votes like this might not only not hurt them, it might actually help to burnish their creds of being willing to stand up for their principles.
We’ll all know on Wednesday, but either way, Schumer is doing the right thing. Get every GOP senator’s vote locked on the record for this issue, because abortion is on the ballot in November. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving, because Democratic challengers can run on it again in 2024 and 2026 against GOP incumbents who voted the wrong side of history. All we can do is try.