Washington D.C., Jan 25, 2021 / 16:30 pm
As Democrats last week took effective control of the Senate, pro-life leaders turned their attention to the record of one senator who could cast pivotal votes in the next two years.
Having gained control of 50 seats in the Senate, Democrats now enjoy a narrow majority in the chamber courtesy of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. However, when the process of reconciliation is invoked—a Senate procedure by which only 50 votes are needed to pass certain budget-related measures—every vote will count. And the name of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is being discussed by pro-life groups as a possible obstacle to Democrats passing pro-abortion items.
Manchin, a moderate West Virginia Democrat who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 after serving as governor of that state, has been known to cast pro-life votes before.
He joined Republicans in voting for two important pro-life policies in the last Congress, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Manchin also recently pledged his support for the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing policy which prohibits federal funding of elective abortions--despite growing calls within his party to rescind that amendment.
However, despite these votes and statements, Manchin’s scores from pro-life groups range from an “F” rating on life to 100% pro-life.
David O’Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), told CNA that Manchin earned a perfect 100% score from NRLC for his votes in the 116th Congress. However, the group gave him mixed ratings in previous congresses, such as a 42% rating the 115th Congress and a 75% rating in the 114th Congress.
These lower grades were largely due to disagreement over the Affordable Care Act. While Manchin has supported the law, some pro-life groups—along with the U.S. bishops’ conference—have opposed it because it ultimately allowed for public funding of abortions.
“So you kind of see a pattern here,” O’Steen said. “On standalone abortion votes, he [Manchin] will vote with us.