Senate Democratic Leaders Want Party to Stop Filibusters of Abortion Advocates

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Democratic Leaders Want Party to Stop Filibusters of Abortion Advocates

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 7
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Now that Senate Democrats have 60 members with the addition of pro-abortion Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, party leaders are asking rank and file members to oppose any filibusters of President Barack Obama’s pro-abortion nominees. But that may be easier said than done.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a pro-abortion Illinois senator who is the second highest in the party, sent a message to members of his caucus.

The message was especially targeted at the dozen or so Democrats who are seen as more moderate than the rest of their colleagues.

“Don’t let the Republicans filibuster us into failure. We want to succeed, and to succeed, we need to stick together," Durbin said, according to a CQ report.

“If they will stick with us on the procedural votes, we at least know that we can move forward,” he told CQ. “They may vote against final passage on a bill, they may vote with Republicans on an amendment. That’s entirely their right to do. But this idea of allowing the filibuster to stop the whole Senate. … We ought to control our own agenda.”

With a shrinking minority, the one method Republicans have to impact the debate on some issues — including abortion and Obama’s pro-abortion nominees — is to use a filibuster.

That’s the procedural maneuver to stop debate from ending and it requires a supermajority of 60 votes to overcome, as opposed to the majority needed to confirm a nominee or approve a bill or amendment.

As a vote nears on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and pro-abortion picks like Dawn Johnsen and David Hamilton, Republicans, most of whom are pro-life, may have to rely on a filibuster to stop the confirmations.

Democratic leaders will face two problems as they attempt to implement their filibuster-proof plan.

First, two pro-abortion senators, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Robert Byrd of West Virginia, are saddled with health problems and may not be able to provide the final two votes to reach 60.

Secondly, lawmakers like Evan Bayh, from Indiana, may not go along with votes to stop filibusters on every issue or nominee.

“Most senators aren’t sheep,” he told CQ. “They don’t just go blindly along without thinking about things, and I don’t think we want them to do that.”

One conclusion is slightly more certain. With only 40 votes, Republicans may employ filibusters ore often in the future than minority parties normally would.

And they will face pressure from pro-life groups to employ the filibuster, especially when it comes to preventing abortion coverage, abortion funding and rationing in a national health insurance plan.

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