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Bill to permanently ban taxpayer abortion funding fails Senate vote

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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 17, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A symbolic vote on legislation banning taxpayer funding of abortion failed to muster enough votes to clear the current Senate rules Thursday afternoon, one day before pro-lifers gather in the nation’s capital for the March for Life.

On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi took to the Senate floor to make the case for the latest version of his No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on a motion to proceed to a vote on the bill.

While most direct abortion funding is prohibited by the Hyde Amendment, it requires annual re-approval in the budget process and fails to account for subsidies to groups like Planned Parenthood indirectly supporting their abortion activities. Wicker’s bill would impose a permanent, comprehensive ban on abortion funding, block tax dollars from financing abortions through Obamacare insurance plans, and enhance disclosure requirements for plans on the exchange that cover abortion.

Social conservative groups hailed the move, with Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser claiming the “Senate is showing they’ll be a brick wall when it comes to trying to force taxpayers to pay for abortion on demand,” but none expected the legislation to actually pass. Democrats control the House of Representatives, and Senate Republicans currently lack the 60 votes needed to proceed to a final, simple-majority vote.

The final vote was 48-47, with pro-abortion Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski joining Democrats. The GOP currently has enough pro-life senators that a simple majority could have been compiled without them, but GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander, Richard Burr, Mike Crapo, Lindsey Graham, and Rand Paul were either absent or did not vote.

Several Democrat lawmakers attacked both the policy proposal and the act of holding a vote on it:

Though the bill failed to pass, Wicker expressed pleasure that the vote helped put all of his colleagues' positions on the record:

It would have been possible, albeit time-consuming, to circumvent the 60-vote threshold by forcing the minority party to engage in a literal filibuster and enforce the “two-speech rule” limiting the number of times individual Democrats can speak, but for years McConnell has been unwilling to revise the filibuster rules in any way.

With control of Congress divided for the next two years, pro-lifers have largely resigned themselves to a national agenda of confirming originalist judges in the Senate and promoting pro-life executive actions for the time being, while many hope the proliferation of heartbeat laws in the states will eventually force the Supreme Court to revisit and overturn Roe v. Wade.

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