Republicans push for delay on same-sex marriage vote
Sen. Rob Portman spoke for his fellow negotiators trying for a filibuster-breaking compromise: "Others have been more optimistic, but people need some time."
The House passed a bill enshrining marriage protections in July, a reaction to a concurring opinion by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that suggested, following the overturning of Roe, other issues like marriage could be reconsidered by the high court. The high number of House GOP supporters made Senate passage suddenly seem possible.
With the bill’s fate hanging in the balance, Baldwin did not endorse a delay and said instead that her focus is on winning the first procedural vote needed to get the bill across the finish line. If that happens Monday and the measure overcomes a filibuster to reach the floor, debate would likely dominate Senate action all week.
“We were ready to push for a vote for this right after the House voted overwhelmingly in a bipartisan manner to advance this. But now we’re getting ever closer to a certain date in November. And I think that’s a new factor,” Baldwin said.
A spokesperson for Sinema said she’s not looking to delay the bill either, and her attention is on getting the language right. A failed vote could help Democrats in their efforts to portray the GOP as extreme on social issues, but Republican supporters say that would be a disastrous result for a bill that should remain bipartisan. Baldwin said she’s “going to work as hard as I can to make sure that we can get onto the bill next week, and pass it.”
Collins described a laborious behind-the-scenes effort to finish the job, including studying state laws as examples and fielding multiple requests from interested senators.
“You would be surprised at the number of senators who have given us input. And so we’re trying to take each of those suggestions very seriously,” Collins said. “All of that takes more time and as we try to build the number of senators we need.”
Sens. Toomey, Lummis, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mitt Romney of Utah are among the Republicans still undecided. In fact, a surprising number of GOP senators are currently publicly on the fence, though there’s a prevailing view that some new supporters will be revealed if the bill ever actually goes on the Senate floor. Some Republicans may also back the bill if and when proposed religious liberty-related changes are finished.
“With the right religious freedom amendments, I can support it,” Romney said. “Without it, I’d have a very difficult decision to make.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that while he’s ready to bring the legislation to the floor, he’s deferring to Baldwin. Schumer committed earlier this month to bringing up the legislation in the “coming weeks.”
“We’re going to have the vote when we have the votes. It’s that simple,” Tillis said, standing next to Baldwin in a Senate elevator. “We’re working through, with my colleague here, pieces that will be well received.”
Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.