Representative Steve Scalise (R., La.), minority whip in the House of Representatives, has filed a discharge petition today to override Democratic leadership and bring the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to the House floor. The bill, sponsored by Representative Ann Wagner (R., Mo.), would require that doctors provide medical care to infants born alive in attempted abortion procedures. Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) sponsored a similar bill in the Senate, which Democrats blocked in a floor vote on February 25.
Scalise told National Review on Tuesday that he hopes to get enough signatures on the petition to bring the House bill to the floor and force Democrats to go on record on the issue. “Pelosi refuses to bring it up for a vote,” Scalise said. “My discharge petition, if we achieve 218 signatures, will allow us to override that and bring the bill to the floor for debate and a vote.”
Because the petition requires a majority, 21 Democratic representatives will have to join all 197 Republicans in signing on. Scalise is hopeful that many of his colleagues across the aisle will be willing to do so. “I know there are a number that are interested in the bill, and there are a lot who won their elections saying they are going to be pro-life,” he noted. “Here’s their opportunity to stand up and be counted. If they are really pro-life, they’d sign on to this.”
Since Wagner introduced her legislation in February, House Republicans have taken to the floor for 25 consecutive legislative days to call for unanimous consent to debate and vote on the bill. They were blocked each time by Democratic leadership.
But now Scalise believes that, because the born-alive bill is so popular with Americans, some Democratic politicians will seriously consider supporting his petition and even ultimately voting for the legislation. According to recent Rasmussen polling, nearly 70 percent of Americans believe doctors should be required to care for children born alive after a failed abortion procedure, including 61 percent of Democrats.
“I think they’re out of touch with Americans, and even with most Democrats,” Scalise said. “It shows you just how far left Pelosi’s new majority has moved. They’ve shifted away from a moderate-to-liberal party to now where socialists in their party have literally taken over the center of gravity. They’re on the wrong side on this issue.”
The House voted on the born-alive bill in January 2018, when Republicans still held the majority, and only six Democrats crossed over to support the legislation (including one, Tim Walz (D., Minn.), who later apologized and said he had voted for it mistakenly; Walz is no longer in office). But Republicans are hopeful this time might be different, as 40 new Democratic representatives took office just this year, many of whom ran as moderates, and many of whom hail from districts that Donald Trump won in 2016.
“Unfortunately, Pelosi has been strong-arming a lot of people away from this bill,” Scalise said. “I think it’s going to be a grassroots movement all across the country of people who think it’s against American values to allow babies who are born alive to be killed. . . . A lot of members are going to be asked why they haven’t signed on, and not only why they haven’t signed, but when they’re going to sign.”