In what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said was a decision that "will live in infamy," legislation to protect abortion rights in federal law was rejected in a 51-49 Senate vote Wednesday. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin joined all 50 Republicans in the chamber to vote against proceeding, but even if he had supported the legislation, it wouldn't have come anywhere close to the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster, the Washington Post reports. The Women's Health Protection Act—which was passed by the House last year after the Supreme Court signaled that it might revisit the Roe v. Wade decision—also failed to pass a Senate vote in February, the AP reports.
The result of Wednesday's vote was widely expected. Insiders tell the Post that no serious effort was made to amend the legislation to address the concerns of Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, two Republican senators who support abortion rights. "I plan to continue working with my colleagues on legislation to maintain—not expand or restrict—the current legal framework for abortion rights in this country," Collins said in a statement. Manchin said other Democrats had inaccurately described the bill as putting Roe v. Wade into law when it actually "expands abortion." The bill would ban certain state restrictions on abortion that are currently permitted.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell described the legislation as "extreme" and "chilling," Politico reports. With the Supreme Court expected to overturn Roe next month, Democrats plan to focus heavily on abortion rights ahead of the midterm elections. Insiders tell the Post that the party is considering holding votes on guarantees of at least some abortion rights, including abortions in cases of rape or incest. Support for abolishing the filibuster, however, has weakened, with Democratic lawmakers aware that a move used to establish abortion rights now could be used to ban abortion if Republicans gain control of Congress in the midterms. (Read more abortion stories.)