Chuck Schumer says the Senate will vote on abortion rights bill: 'This is as urgent and real as it gets'

Chuck Schumer says the Senate will vote on abortion rights bill: 'This is as urgent and real as it gets'
Chuck Schumer.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer vowed to hold a vote on codifying federal abortion rights into law.
  • This comes in the wake of the publication of a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that he'll soon force every senator to go on record about their views on federal abortion rights in the wake of the publication of a draft opinion that would overturn abortion rights.

"A vote on this legislation is not an abstract exercise. This is as urgent and real as it gets," Schumer said during a speech on the Senate floor. "We will vote to protect a woman's right to choose and every American is going to see on which side every American stands."

The top Senate Democrat also took what could be viewed as a swipe at Sen. Susan Collins, a rare Republican who supports abortion rights but who voted to confirm two of President Donald Trump's three Supreme Court nominees.

"Make no mistake, the blame for this decision falls squarely on Republican senators and the Senate Republicans as a whole who spent years pushing extremist judges, spent years confirming far-right justices to the Supreme Court, but who claim that somehow this day would never come," Schumer said. "But this day has come and will we fight it all the way."

Collins previously defend her votes to confirm Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh by stating that it was unlikely that either one would favor an explicit repeal of Roe v. Wade. On Tuesday, Collins slammed the pair for misleading her on their views about abortion rights.


Schumer was likely referring to the Women's Health Protection Act, legislation that would essentially codify key parts of Supreme Court precedent into law by creating a nationwide right to an abortion.

But as Schumer himself alluded to, it's unlikely that this legislation goes anywhere. Instead, Democrats are beginning a push to spur public outrage ahead of the midterm elections, arguing that abortion rights are now effectively on the ballot.

"To help fight this court's awful decision, I urge every American to make their voice heard this week and this year," he said. "I urge Americans to call their members, to write their members, to email their members, to text their members, and most of all to cast their ballot."

The Senate previously failed to even secure 50 votes for the proposal in February. At that time, Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat, voted against it. Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Collins, whose positions offer rare exceptions to the GOP's near-universal anti-abortion views, also opposed the proposal. Collins and Murkowski have said that legislation goes too far.

House Democrats passed the Women's Health Protection Act last year on a largely party-line vote. Beyond just uniting his own party, Schumer would also need to face down the Senate filibuster. The procedural hurdle would require any legislation that codifies abortion rights into law to receive 60 votes, an extremely tall order given the current state of the chamber.