Wednesday's 51-49 negative vote almost along party lines provided a stark display of the nation's partisan divide over the landmark court decision and the limits of legislative action.
One Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted with the Republicans, saying he supported keeping Roe v. Wade but believed the current bill was too broad. The two Republican senators who support abortion access — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who faces her own reelection in November, and Susan Collins of Maine — were also no votes, having proposed their own more tailored approach to counter the Supreme Court’s potential action.
The afternoon roll call promised to be the first of several efforts in Congress to preserve the nearly 50-year-old court ruling.
President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation that would guarantee the constitutional right to abortion services after the disclosure of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. But Democrats in the split Senate lacked the votes to reach the 60-vote requirement to advance the bill.
Both parties face enormous pressure to convince voters they are doing all they can — the Democrats working to preserve abortion access, the Republicans to limit or end it — with the fall elections coming up.