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Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks outside the Supreme Court

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks during a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on May 3, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

'We Can't Let the Filibuster Stand in Our Way,' Says Warren as Schumer Sets Up Vote to Codify Roe

"Abolishing the filibuster is not radical," said the advocacy group Public Citizen. "What's radical is watching anti-abortion, anti-trans, and voter suppression legislation sweep the nation and doing nothing to stop it."

Jake Johnson

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Thursday that Democrats can't allow the archaic legislative filibuster to obstruct urgently needed action on abortion rights as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the upper chamber will vote next week on a modified version of the Women's Health Protection Act.

"It's long past time," Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted. "And we can't let the filibuster stand in our way."

In a floor speech on Thursday, Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that "next week's vote will be one of the most important we ever take, because it deals with one of the most personal and difficult decisions a woman ever has to make in her life."

"This is not an abstract exercise. My fellow Americans: it is as real and as urgent as it gets," he added, saying he intends to tee up a vote for Wednesday. "Senate Republicans spent years packing our courts with right-wing judges. Will they now own up to the harm they've caused or will they try to undo the damage?"

Schumer made no mention, however, of the Senate's legislative filibuster, which requires a 60-vote supermajority to end debate on most bills in the upper chamber.

When the Senate last attempted to pass the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA) in late February, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)—an opponent of abortion—joined the unified Republican caucus in filibustering the bill.

The filibuster can be weakened or eliminated with 50 votes plus a tie-breaker from the vice president, but Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have both steadfastly defended the rule and tanked attempts to change it.

Less than 24 hours after Politico published a leaked draft opinion Monday night signaling that the Supreme Court's right-wing majority is set to overturn Roe v. Wade, Manchin openly defended the filibuster, characterizing it as "the only protection we have in democracy."

Sinema, too, reiterated her support for the filibuster in a statement Tuesday while also warning that "overturning Roe v. Wade endangers the health and wellbeing of women in Arizona and across America."

As long as the filibuster remains in place and Manchin continues to oppose the WHPA, the legislation is certain to fail next week.

"News flash: Abolishing the filibuster is not radical," the progressive advocacy group Public Citizen wrote in a message to Democratic senators on Thursday. "What's radical is watching anti-abortion, anti-trans, and voter suppression legislation sweep the nation and doing nothing to stop it."

The Intercept's Natasha Lennard argued in a column earlier this week that "Democrats in Congress should have long ago codified the right to abortion access, as the party's left flank has urged, but they didn't."

"If they don't act now to end the filibuster and pass abortion protection laws," Lennard added, "they will deserve something approaching the same level of blame directed at anti-abortion Republicans."

HuffPost reported Thursday that the latest version of the WHPA—which Schumer filed late Tuesday—is largely identical to the earlier iteration, which would enshrine into federal law the right to abortion care free from medically unnecessary restrictions and bans.

The difference, according to HuffPost, is that the new version "does not include the legislative findings, a nonbinding part of a bill that gives important context and intentions regarding the proposed legislation."

"The findings that were cut from the new WHPA bill described in detail the history of abortion restrictions, the ways they've intersected with racism, classism, and misogyny, and how bans like those now playing out at the state level disproportionately affect the most vulnerable," HuffPost noted. "They're the kind of thing that help establish the intent of a piece of legislation and can be pointed to later if there are court challenges."

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