Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday made clear that Senate Republicans are not eager to debate Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) proposal to ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy, telling reporters that most GOP senators want to leave the issue to states.
McConnell also said Graham’s proposal is the South Carolina senator’s own initiative and not something being pushed at the leadership level.
“With regard to his bill, you’ll have to ask him about it. In terms of scheduling, I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level,” he told reporters.
McConnell and his leadership team wants to focus instead on President Biden’s handling of the economy and inflation, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday increased 8.3 percent over the past year.
Yet Graham held a press conference earlier in the day to introduce legislation that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy and subject doctors who violate the ban to sentences of up to five years in prison.
Graham admitted that he did not consult with McConnell before making his push for a 15-week abortion ban.
He said he introduced the legislation with the support of several prominent anti-abortion rights groups such as the National Right to Life Committee, March for Life and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.
McConnell said it’s up to the Republican candidates in various Senate battleground races to explain how they view the hot-button issue.
“I think every Republican senator running this year in these contested races has an answer as to how they feel about the issue and it may be different in different states. So I leave it up to our candidates who are quite capable of handling this issue to determine for them what their response is,” he said.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is running for reelection this year, says she supports women’s reproductive freedoms and favors codifying national abortion rights that were established by the Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe v. Wade.
The high court reversed its decision in Roe v. Wade earlier this year in its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Anticipating the Dobbs decision, which leaked before it was formally announced, McConnell said in May that there are not 60 votes in Congress to pass major abortion law at the federal level and said the issue should be left to states.
“Historically, there have been abortion votes on the floor of the Senate. None of them have achieved 60 votes,” he said at the time.
“I think it’s safe to say there aren’t 60 votes there at the federal level, no matter who happens to be in the majority, no matter who happens to be in the White House,” he added.