ATLANTA — U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock amassed another record-breaking fundraising haul, while GOP donors egged on by Donald Trump came off the sidelines to boost Republican Herschel Walker’s challenge. The fundraising reports filed Friday were yet another indication that the battle for Warnock’s seat in Georgia will attract enormous attention and money, as both parties battle over a seat that could determine control of the U.S. Senate next year. Warnock raised more than $9.5 million during the three-month quarter, an impressive sum that highlights the extensive fundraising infrastructure the Dem...
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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., on Thursday sent out a fundraising email touting her work to protect women's health care after shooting down President Joe Biden's proposal to codify abortion rights.
Biden on Thursday called for the Senate to support a filibuster carveout to pass a federal law ensuring the right to an abortion.
"The most important thing ... we have to change -- I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law," Biden said during a news conference at the NATO summit in Madrid. "And the way to do that is to make sure the Congress votes to do that. And if the filibuster gets in the way, it's like voting rights -- it should be (that) we provide an exception to this ... requiring an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision."
The plan was quickly shot down by Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who have opposed scrapping the filibuster. Sinema's office told CNN that the senator is "still opposed to gutting the filibuster on any topic including on reproductive rights."
Sinema was accused of hypocrisy after repeatedly touting her support for abortion rights. Former Obama administration digital strategist Tim Fullerton flagged a fundraising email Sinema's campaign sent out Thursday touting her work to "protect women's health care."
Sinema said after the Supreme Court last week struck down federal abortion protections that the ruling "endangers the health and wellbeing of women."
"Throughout my time in Congress, I've always supported women's access to health care, and I'll continue working with anyone to protect women's ability to make decisions about their futures," she said in a statement that noted she has "repeatedly voted in favor of protecting women's right to choose and is a cosponsor of the Women's Health Protection Act."
Democratic strategist Sawyer Hackett noted that Sinema and Democrats were only able to confirm Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson with 53 votes because of an existing filibuster carveout.
"Why wouldn't she do it to pass the bill to codify Roe—a bill she cosponsors?" he tweeted.
John LaBombard, Sinema's former spokesman, dismissed criticism of the senator, describing a filibuster carveout to protect abortion rights as a "progressive purity test."
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Sinema last year wrote a Washington Post op-ed arguing that Democrats "have more to lose than gain by ending the filibuster."
"To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to expand health-care access," she wrote, "Would it be good for our country if we did, only to later see that legislation replaced by legislation… defunding women's reproductive health services?"
Sinema's explanation was rejected by Arizona Democrats, who censured her for backing the filibuster as the party tried to codify voting rights during a nationwide Republican crackdown on ballot access. Some progressives have already launched efforts to back a primary challenger to Sinema in 2024.
There is, of course, nothing to stop Republicans from forcing their own filibuster changes if they regain control of the Senate in the midterm elections regardless of what Democrats do this term. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who previously eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, floated the possibility of passing a federal abortion ban earlier this year.
McConnell's Senate strategy during Biden's first two years in office has heavily relied on obstruction from Manchin and Sinema. The Republican leader has repeatedly pointed to Sinema's opposition to rolling back the Trump tax cuts — which she campaigned against — to privately assure Republicans that she would help kill his legislative agenda.
"Hopefully that will be enough to keep this thing underwater permanently," he said publicly during a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce event this spring.
McConnell went further on Thursday, vowing to kill the bipartisan United States Innovation and Competition Act — a bill that invests in American industries to bolster U.S. competitiveness with China that passed the Senate 68-32 — if Democrats move ahead with a reconciliation bill to lower drug prices.
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., a potential Sinema primary challenger, tweeted that the "only reason he can make that threat" is because he knows Sinema and Manchin empower him "by not neutering the filibuster."
Longtime progressive advocate Nina Turner called out the Democratic Party for allowing the two senators to hold their agenda hostage.
"Manchin and Sinema deserve to face consequences," she tweeted. "Would Mitch McConnell allow two Republican senators to derail the GOP agenda? No he would not."
Correction: This article previously said Sinema supported a filibuster carveout to raise the debt ceiling. It was a workaround that passed with 60 votes.
The sponsor of legislation that would ban nearly all abortions in Ohio said babies conceived via rape or incest still have a right to life.
Rep. Jean Schmidt, a Cincinnati area Republican, said on conservative talk radio earlier this week that her bill is likely to pass in the legislative session after the November elections.
“I do believe we have the votes in both chambers, and we have the full support of the governor on this bill,” she said.
The bill also creates a new misdemeanor crime of “promoting” abortion, for those who make, sell or distribute drugs or devices used to perform illegal abortions. Schmidt said in the interview this could be used to target some of the companies (including in Ohio) that have announced they will cover costs of employee travel to seek an abortion as needed.
When pressed by 700WLW host Bill Cunningham on whether Ohio should pass legislation banning birth control pills or condoms, she said she’ll listen to both sides of the debate.
House Bill 598, which Schmidt introduced, would ban most abortion in Ohio. Current Ohio law allows for abortions up to six weeks after a woman’s last period. The proposed legislation does not provide exceptions for pregnancies conceived by rape or incest.
Providing any abortion under the bill could lead to a fourth degree felony charge. The law allows the accused to mount a defense, however, if they only did so to save the life of the mother. That physician would need to provide written certification of the woman’s medical need along with that of another physician from a separate practice.
Likewise, the legislation requires at least two physicians present during the abortion: one to perform the abortion in the manner that provides the “best opportunity for the unborn child to survive,” and another to care for the fetus.
Schmidt drew national attention in April when she referred to a hypothetical 13-year-old’s pregnancy spawned by rape as an “opportunity.” Her recent comments, however, come after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned a landmark 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. That decision wiped out the federal protection and returned control over abortion to the states.
A spokesman for Gov. Mike DeWine did not dispute Schmidt’s characterization of DeWine’s support for her bill, and noted that the governor has previously expressed support for conceptually similar legislation. Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said this week he expects an abortion ban of some sort to pass in late 2022.
Schmidt’s remarks indicate no signs of a softened position, and a sense of opportunity after the removal of a major roadblock to restrictive abortion laws. They, and Cunningham’s questions, have been edited here for length and clarity.
Cunningham: What about rape and incest [as a potential exception to a ban on abortion]?
Schmidt: “Rape and incest is an ugly, ugly, ugly act of violence, and that woman is truly harmed and scarred, and those wounds will never go away and we need to make sure that she has all of the love and help and support. But to end the pregnancy of the child is not going to erase those wounds or those scars. That child still has the right to life.”
So, as a leader in the House of Representatives, you would not vote to ban birth control pills in Ohio?
“You know, that’s another issue for another day, and I’m going to have to listen to both sides of that debate. But right now, what I’m really concerned about is the life of the child, and the fact that we have the opportunity in Ohio to protect it from its conception until its natural death. That’s what I’m most excited about.”
Would you vote against gay marriage in Ohio?
“You know, Bill, that’s another decision for another day. The issue right now is abortion, and that’s one I want to make sure sees its end in Ohio in a very quick fashion.”
[Cunningham for 90 seconds talks about various alternatives to surgical abortion, ending in a statement that companies are starting to “pay” their employees $4,000 to travel to more liberal states that allow them to obtain an abortion and other “workarounds”.]
Do you know what I’m saying?
“If those companies want to do that, they better make sure that they’re complying with the laws of the states that allow them to do that. Because in House Bill 598, it says anybody that promotes an abortion will be under the issues of criminal activity. They might have a problem with sending somebody outside the state with a paycheck in hand, because that would be – in some legal eyes – promoting abortion.”
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