Senate Republicans Elect Pro-Life Leaders, Democrats Pick Abortion Advocates

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 16, 2010   |   12:55PM   |   Washington, DC

Senate Republicans and Democrats held leadership elections today for the top positions and leaders for each party for the next session of Congress.

Little changed as most leaders stayed the same and as the parties picked leaders with extremely contrasting views on abortion.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, a pro-life Kentucky Republican, was unanimously re-elected to his position as the Senate Minority Leader. Senators John McCain, the former presidential candidate, and Marco Rubio, the pro-life incoming freshman senator from Florida, placed McConnell’s name into nomination.

The nominations from McCain and Rubio serve to unite the potentially competing factions of the party — including more establishment Republican lawmakers like McCain and the more conservative activist-minded members like Rubio.

“It was the third time that Republicans have unanimously chosen Sen. McConnell to serve as their leader and the fifth straight party election he has won by acclamation,” a party spokesman told The Hill about the unity behind the vote.

Last week, McConnell filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the multistate lawsuit that has been filed against the abortion-funding ObamaCare health care law. He joined the states in arguing that the ObamaCare law is unconstitutional because it requires Americans to purchase health insurance who may not want to do so.

Republicans also unanimously re-elected pro-life Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona as the Minority Whip, the number two position.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee continues as Republican Conference chairman and Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming remains conference vice chairman — both are pro-life.

On the Democratic side, the party caucus retained the two pro-abortion leaders who ushered in the ObamaCare bill that contains little in the way of prevention of abortion funding.

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada reclaimed his Majority Leader post and Sen. Dick Durbin will remain as the Majority Whip, the second highest-ranking position.

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York will stay on as vice chairman of the Democratic conference and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington will remain conference secretary. Both are strong abortion advocates.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told the elections are an exercise in contrast.

“Senator McConnell has been a strong and effective advocate for the pro-life cause for many years,” he said. “Senator Reid, on the other hand, has been a major asset to the pro-abortion forces — obstructing pro-life bills and nominees whenever possible, and generally doing the bidding of Planned Parenthood.” 

Meanwhile, Republicans unanimously re-elected pro-life Texas Sen. John Cornyn as the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which is the campaign committee charged with supporting candidates for the senate.

“I appreciate the strong support from all of my Republican colleagues, and especially our 13 new Republican Senators, as we continue our campaign to win back a Senate Republican majority in 2012. Continuity at the NRSC is something we haven’t had in a while, and which we need to build on our victories in 2010,” he said.

Cornyn received praise for the election of new pro-life senators this election cycle, including Rubio in Florida, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, John Boozman in Arkansas, Rob Portman in Ohio, Roy Blunt in Missouri, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Dan Coats in Indiana, Rand Paul in Kentucky, and John Hoeven in North Dakota.

“Two years ago, few would have imagined that Senate Republicans would win seven Democrat-held Senate seats, while successfully defending every single Republican Senate seat,” Cornyn added.
Democrats currently hold a 59-41 edge in the Senate but they will hold a narrower 53-47 advantage starting in January.

On the House side, leadership elections for the Democratic and Republican caucuses are scheduled for Wednesday. Republicans, who won a net gain of at least 60 seats in the midterm elections, will control that chamber next year.