After blocking more than 400 items passed in the House, suddenly Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants the Senate to vote on bills.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will force votes on Tuesday on two anti-abortion bills that have no chance of passing the House or Senate.
His decision comes as he continues to block more than 400 pieces of legislation from even getting a vote in the Senate after they passed in the House of Representatives this year.
According to the New York Times, McConnell (R-KY) will hold cloture votes on bills to severely restrict later abortions and criminalize doctors who perform them. Both bills have already been rejected by the Senate in recent years and neither has the support of the required 60 senators for passage.
A senior Republican aide told the Times that the votes were mostly designed to let lawmakers remind voters of their anti-abortion stances.
The votes on the so-called "Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act" and "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" are a rare departure in the GOP-controlled Senate from its usual schedule of doing little but judicial and executive branch confirmation votes.
Last year the Senate held 428 roll call votes. The vast majority — 318 — were related to Donald Trump's nominees. Even some members of McConnell's Senate Republican caucus complained the chamber did nearly no legislating under his management.
Over that time, the House of Representatives passed popular legislation to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination, protect Dreamers brought to the country as children by undocumented parents, combat sex discrimination in employment, require background checks for all gun purchases, and raise the federal minimum wage.
But McConnell has obstructed these and hundreds of other pieces of legislation, refusing to even let them come up for a vote in the Senate. This month, he bragged on Fox News, "We're not gonna pass those."
In explaining his refusal to bring up popular gun safety legislation last year, McConnell argued that it would be a waste of time for the Senate to debate bills that have no chance of being signed into law.
"I want to make a law, not just see this kind of political sparring going on endlessly, which never produces a result," he told a local radio station in August.
He added that bringing the Senate back from its summer recess to consider gun bills would be a useless exercise. "If we did that, we would just have people scoring points and nothing would happen. There has to be a bipartisan discussion here of what we can agree on."
But in bringing up these two anti-abortion bills, he is doing exactly what he previously decried. Neither bill is expected to get close to 60 votes and neither would stand a chance in the Democratic-controlled House.
And while McConnell continues to block bills with broad popularly, he is opting to bring up abortion bans that are a priority only for the GOP base.
Recent polling shows that support for legal abortion is at the highest level in more than 20 years, with 61% of Americans believing it should be legal in most or all cases.
"Let's be clear: the politicians behind these bills have one ultimate goal in mind: to ban access to safe, legal abortion in this country — and they know the public is not on their side," Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of government relations and public policy for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement on Monday.
"The American people overwhelmingly support abortion access, and they want a U.S. Senate that works to expand health care, not take it away," Ayers added.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.