by Steven Ertelt
July 26, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and leaders from several pro-life organizations held a press conference on Wednesday urging Senate Democrats to lift their block on a parental involvement on abortion bill so work can be finalized and it can be sent to the president for his signature.
After the Senate approved the Child Custody Protection Act on a strongly bipartisan 65-34 vote Tuesday, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, used a procedural motion to prevent the bill from going to a conference committee.
Because the House and Senate versions of the measure are different a conference committee is needed to work out the differences in the bill and craft a final version for the president to approve. Normally this a routine process.
Frist said he would do whatever is necessary to see that the conference committee moves ahead.
"Democratic Leadership is trying to obstruct the enactment of this popular legislation by preventing us from going to conference," Frist said, according to a statement provided to LifeNews.com.
"I would hope that my Democratic colleagues would allow us to move to conference in order to enact this law that has the potential to help our states protect our children," First added.
The Senate must move quickly on resolving the differences between the bills because both the House and Senate are within weeks of concluding the current session of Congress. Lawmakers must start the process over again if the bill is not finalized beforehand.
One option Frist has is to call for a formal vote on assigning members to the conference committee.
However, Durbin could object to the vote and require a 60 member majority to stop debate and allow a vote on the motion. That would allow several pro-abortion Democrats who voted for the bill to work with Durbin to stall it.
With upcoming elections, such a scenario would give some lawmakers the chance to say they voted for parental notification, which enjoys about 80 percent support from the public, while still preventing the bill from being signed into law.
President Bush has indicated he strongly supports the measure and will sign it once Congress gets it to him.
Representatives of the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, National Right to Life Committee, and the Susan B. Anthony List attended the press conference with Frist.
Yesterday, Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, said Durbin’s action was another example of Senate Democratic leaders holding up the bill — which they have prevented coming up for a vote for years.
"Fourteen Democratic senators voted to pass the bill, but only minutes later the Democratic caucus collectively moved to kill the bill by objecting to the routine, necessary step of sending the bill to a conference committee," Johnson told LifeNews.com in a statement.
"The Senate Democratic leadership is now obstructing legislation supported by 80 percent of the public, doing the bidding of the abortion lobby," Johnson explained. "They are ignoring the 80 percent of the public that believes parental notification laws protect vulnerable minors and the rights of parents."