Moderate Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona dodged calls from fellow Democrats to amend or abolish the filibuster to pass laws protecting abortion after a leaked opinion showed that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Both Manchin and Sinema defended the filibuster Tuesday, saying that they believe the filibuster has actually protected abortion rights from being overturned by Congress in the past.
Buzzfeed News D.C. Bureau reporter Paul McLeod first reported Tuesday that Manchin did not support ending the filibuster to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law. “Big: Senator Joe Manchin just indicated he would not blow up the filibuster to codify Roe, saying he believes the filibuster is a check on power that preserves abortion rights. Without Manchin, the chance of passing Roe into law is pretty much zero,” McLeod tweeted.
CBS News Congressional Correspondent Scott MacFarlane quoted Manchin directly. “The filibuster is the only protection we have of democracy right now,” he reportedly said.
“We’ve protected women’s rights with the filibuster,” Manchin added, as reported by The Hill. Manchin repeatedly refused to answer questions on the opinion itself, The Hill added.
CNN’s Manu Raju reported that Manchin joined Senate Republicans in February to block the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have codified Roe. The bill was defeated by a vote of 46-48, and the Senate would have needed 60 votes to pass.
Sinema issued a statement to her Twitter account echoing Manchin’s sentiments. “A woman’s health care choices should be between her, her family, and her doctor,” she wrote. “Overturning Roe v. Wade endangers the health and wellbeing of women in Arizona and across America. Protections in the Senate safeguarding against the erosion of women’s access to health care have been used half-a-dozen times in the past ten years, and are more important now than ever. Throughout my time in Congress, I’ve always supported women’s access to health care, I’m a cosponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, and I’ll continue working with anyone to protect women’s ability to make decisions about their futures.”
Manchin and Sinema’s comments come amid a flurry of calls from far-Left Democrats who are seeking to take radical actions to codify Roe v. Wade into law.
“Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted in response to the leaked draft opinion. “And if there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there are not, we must end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes.”
Democratic Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey called for the Senate to pack the Court Monday night. “A stolen, illegitimate, and far-right Supreme Court majority appears set to destroy the right to abortion, an essential right which protects the health, safety, and freedom of millions of Americans,” Markey tweeted. “There is no other recourse. We must expand the court.”
“End the filibuster. Codify #RoeVWade with a national law protecting abortion rights. Expand the Supreme Court. Stop this horrifying injustice in its tracks,” tweeted fellow Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has promised a vote on legislation to protect abortion rights in the coming days.