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A lifesaving petition for babies

Politics | A majority of Americans support protecting abortion survivors, but it’s a hard sell in Congress
by Harvest Prude
Posted 4/04/19, 04:44 pm

WASHINGTON—Republicans are trying to gather enough signatures to bypass House Democratic leadership and vote to protect babies born during attempted abortions.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., introduced a discharge petition Tuesday for the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a measure that would mandate that babies who survive attempted abortions receive medical care. Providers who failed to care for those babies would face criminal and civil penalties.

The petition needs 218 signatures to force the bill to the House floor. If all Republicans sign it, which appears likely, it would still need 21 Democratic signatures—a slim possibility in the Democratic-controlled House.

Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., introduced the bill in February. Since then, House Republicans have called for unanimous consent to pass the bill for 25 consecutive legislative days. Democrats blocked the effort each time. A similar bill introduced by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., suffered the same fate in the Senate in February.

Republicans hope they can win some bipartisan support from moderate Democrats from districts that President Donald Trump won in 2016. In an Fox News op-ed, Wagner and Scalise noted that “86 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of Democrats, and 75 percent of independents support this legislation.”

Three Democrats co-sponsored the bill. Of those, Reps. Dan Lipinski of Illinois and Collin Peterson of Minnesota added their names to the petition by Thursday. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, co-sponored the bill but hadn’t signed the petition as of Thursday, and Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, signed the peition but did not co-sponsor the bill.

“There are a lot [of congressmen] who won their elections saying they are going to be pro-life,” Scalise told National Review. “Here’s their opportunity to stand up and be counted. If they are really pro-life, they’d sign on to this.”

The removal of protections for unborn babies in states such as New York, which this year legalized abortion up until the point of birth, prompted the introduction of the Born-Alive bill. The care of abortion survivors also garnered national attention after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat and a physician, made comments in late January about the late-term abortion of babies with deformities, who he said could be left to die after safely being delivered. Republicans introduced the Born-Alive bills in Congress shortly after Northam made his remarks.

A recent Marist poll showed that about 75 percent of Americans, regardless of whether they identify as pro-life, want abortion restricted to the first trimester of pregnancy. A Rasmussen poll conducted March 12-13 found 69 percent of Americans said they believe doctors should be required to care for a child who survives an abortion and 20 percent said they were not sure. Only 6 percent of those surveyed said doctors definitely shouldn’t be required to care for abortion survivors.

Pro-life organizations are working to pressure Democrats to support the Born-Alive bill. March for Life Action said it will track lawmakers who refuse to sign the discharge petition and release the information on its annual scorecard.

“Open hostility towards any pro-life legislation on the part of current House Democratic leadership makes this necessary,” Tom McClusky, President of March for Life Action, said in a statement. “We call on all members to join the majority of Americans and recognize that a child born alive, even if she has been marked for abortion, has a right to life that should be protected.”

The last time a discharge petition made it successfully to the floor was in 2015. It advanced a bill extending the charter of the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Associated Press/Photo by Carolyn Kaster Associated Press/Photo by Carolyn Kaster Sen. Brian Schatz

A perennial complaint

A group of Democratic senators is proposing a constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College. The proposal is part of a growing push to change the way the United States elects presidents amid concerns that the Constitution’s procedure can thwart the will of the majority of Americans.

“In an election, the person who gets the most votes should win. It’s that simple,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who proposed the amendment along with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

Calls for eliminating the Electoral College, in which each state sends designated electors to vote for the president, have in recent years come mainly from the political left after Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump won the Electoral College but not the popular vote. Several Democratic presidential candidates, including Gillibrand and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have recently pushed the idea.

Republicans, including Trump in the past, have also criticized the system. In 2013, after President Barack Obama won reelection, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for changing how states divvy up their electoral votes. Most electors cast ballots for whichever candidate wins the popular vote in their state, but states have the authority to decide how they dole out their electoral votes.

Defenders of the status quo praise the Electoral College for spreading power among the states. In a series of messages on Twitter last month, Trump claimed winning the popular vote is “much easier” than winning the Electoral College and that the system gives greater voice to people across the country.

“It’s like training for the 100 yard dash vs. a marathon. The brilliance of the Electoral College is that you must go to many States to win. With the Popular Vote, you go to just the large States - the Cities would end up running the Country. Smaller States & the entire Midwest would end up losing all power - & we can’t let that happen. I used to like the idea of the Popular Vote, but now realize the Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A.”

The hurdles of changing the system have prompted a growing number of states to pursue an alternative to getting rid of the Electoral College. An idea called the National Popular Vote would have states award their electors to whoever received the most votes nationwide rather than in the state, effectively eliminating the possibility of a mismatch between the Electoral College and popular vote outcomes. The effort would likely face challenges in court and create difficulties by magnifying local problems on a national scale, skeptics warn. So far, 13 states and the District of Columbia have endorsed the scheme. —Anne K. Walters

Associated Press/Photo by Frank Franklin II Associated Press/Photo by Frank Franklin II Former Vice President Joe Biden

The straight-arm club

Former Vice President Joe Biden has promised to respect others’ physical boundaries more after several women accused him of touching them in ways that made them uncomfortable.

On March 29, former Nevada state lawmaker Lucy Flores wrote in a New York magazine essay that during a 2014 campaign rally, Biden placed his hands on her shoulders gave her a “big slow kiss” on the back of her head.

Then on Monday, former congressional aide Amy Lappos said Biden put a hand around her neck and leaned in to rub her nose at a 2009 fundraiser. The New York Times on Tuesday reported accusations from two other women, one who said Biden touched her thigh and hugged her for too long, and another who said he touched her back in a way that made her “very uncomfortable.”

Biden originally addressed Flores’ story in a statement on Sunday. He said he has “offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support, and comfort.” He added that “not once—never—did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday that Biden should reevaluate his interactions with women. “He’s an affectionate person—to children, to senior citizens, to everyone, that’s just the way he is.” But she advised the former vice president to “join the straight-arm club with me, if you will.”

Biden is considering a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination but has not yet announced his decision. On Wednesday, he released a two-minute video in which he promised to do better. He said in the past, his touching had been all about making a “human connection.” “The boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset,” Biden said. “I get it, I get it, I hear what they’re saying, and I understand it.” —H.P.

Associated Press/Photo by Jose Luis Magana Associated Press/Photo by Jose Luis Magana Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C., on Monday

2020 forecast

Democratic presidential candidates have started releasing their fundraising results from the first three months of 2019. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., leads the pack, having raised $18.2 million from 525,000 donors in the first quarter, according to Open Secrets. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., reported hauling in $12 million from 138,000 donors. Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, announced that he raised $9.4 million from an unspecified number of donors in just 18 days. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, considered an underdog in the contest, surprised his rivals by reportedly raising more than $7 million from 158,550 donors. Another long shot, tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, raised $1.7 million from 80,000 donors.

Candidates must receive contributions from 65,000 individual donors to qualify for the first Democratic presidential debate. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro have said they did not reach that threshold. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., of New Jersey has not said whether he hit his fundraising goal, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said they reached their goals but did not give specific numbers.

Candidates have until April 15 to file their first-quarter financial reports with the Federal Election Commission. Another Democrat, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, announced Thursday he was throwing his hat in the crowded ring of contenders for the presidential nomination. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump, who announced he would run for reelection right after he took office, has raised and spent more than $70 million since 2016, according to NPR. —H.P.

Malware at Mar-a-Lago

WASHINGTON—Senate Democrats have asked the FBI to investigate security vulnerabilities at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida after authorities arrested a woman on the premises carrying a device with computer malware.

The woman got into the Palm Beach, Fla., club Saturday after telling a Secret Service agent she was a member wanting access to the pool. After she got inside, she told a receptionist she was there to attend a “United Nations Chinese American Association” event. There was no such event on the schedule. After her arrest, she was found carrying two Chinese passports, four cellphones, a laptop computer, and an external hard drive and thumb drive loaded with malware.

On Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other Democrats wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for an investigation. They said the incident “raises very serious questions regarding security vulnerabilities at Mar-a-Lago, which foreign intelligence services have reportedly targeted.”

The suspect, Yujing Zhang, is charged with making false statements to federal agents and illegally entering a restricted area. She is in custody pending a hearing next week. —H.P.

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a political reporter for WORLD's Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Harvest resides in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter @HarvestPrude.

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  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Tue, 04/09/2019 02:58 am

    I get so tired of hearing there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats. Who is pushing abortion? The Democrats are! Who is resisting abortion? The Republicans are! Who is pushing transgenderism? The Democrats are!  Who are pushing radical socialism? The Democrats are and not the Republicans! Who are pushing open borders? The Democrats are! If you cannot see the difference between the two parties then your moral compass is broken!