The Senate on Wednesday blocked a Republican attempt to overturn a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rule that allowed it to offer abortion counseling and, in certain cases, abortions to veterans and their dependents.
The Senate voted 48 to 51 on a procedural hurdle for the resolution, falling short of the needed 51 votes to pass.
Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) was the lone Democrat to side with most Republicans. Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the two pro-choice Senate GOP members, voted with every other Democrat.
The vote means the VA’s rule, which was rolled out in September in response to the Supreme Court decision months earlier that struck down Roe v. Wade and threatened abortion access, will remain in place.
The VA at the time announced that it would provide abortions in cases where the life or health of a veteran is at risk if they had to carry their pregnancy to term or if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
Even if the resolution had advanced to President Biden’s desk, he had announced plans to veto it.
The White House announced in a Statement of Administration Policy that the push “undermines patient safety and invites political interference into deeply personal decisions made by pregnant veterans and CHAMPVA beneficiaries in consultation with their health care providers, threatening their health and lives.”
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), the lead sponsor of the resolution of disapproval, told reporters earlier in the day that “it’s illegal, it’s wrong and an abuse of the taxpayer dollars.”
“It’s a slap in the face of people that don’t want to pay for abortions, and that’s the majority of people in this country,” Tuberville said.
Manchin argued the Biden administration should not have made the change unilaterally and that any change of this kind should go through the House and Senate.
“I’m the only Democrat who’s joined the resolution as you know, but with that I believe there’s other people who feel the same as I do and just haven’t spoken out on this,” Manchin said.
The bill was brought up via the Congressional Review Act, with Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas) introducing it in the House.