October 4, 2017

Yesterday, the House passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would threaten doctors with prison or fines if they aborted babies after 20 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the mother’s life. That’s about the stage at which it’s believed that an unborn child can feel pain, and there are already similar abortion limits in 17 states.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called on the Senate to pass the bill, saying, “We must not turn away from the pain of the most vulnerable among us.” But chances are, it will not pass the Senate, even though President Trump would almost certainly sign it. The problem is that it will run up against the Senate filibuster rule, which means a majority vote isn’t enough; it now requires 60 votes to get anything through the Senate.

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That is largely why the House has passed many bills that Republicans voted for, only to see them die in the Senate, even with a Republican majority. It’s frustrating, but here’s a reminder: in August of 2010, when Democrats held both Houses of Congress but only 57 Senate seats, the Nancy Pelosi-led House had passed 372 bills that the Senate hadn’t acted on.

Considering that the most famous bill that horrible Congress did pass was Obamacare, it’s terrifying to imagine what America would be like today if the Senate had passed all 372 of those House-approved bills. As infuriating as gridlock is right now, there are times when it’s the American people’s best friend.


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