Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, the most vulnerable Democrat facing reelection, opposed the 20-week ban but voted for the second measure.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who are participating in tonight’s presidential debate in South Carolina, were not present for the votes.
The bills were expected to fail — both needed 60 votes to advance. Republicans have tried to advance these same policies several times over the past few years despite their long odds.
“If my Democratic colleagues block the Senate from even proceeding to debate this legislation, the message they will send will be chilling and clear,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a floor speech ahead of the vote. “Every senator will be able to take a clear moral stand.”
Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, blasted the effort as a set of “show votes” and “shameless political stunts,” and noting the chamber has rejected the same legislation multiple times before.
“Every single Senate Republican knows that these bills cannot and will not pass. But they’re putting them on the floor anyway to pander to the hard right,” Schumer said.
Similar bills have failed to gain traction in the Democratic-controlled House, where Republicans have failed so far in their effort to force a floor vote on the measures. Democrats argue the “born alive” policy is unnecessary because there are already laws protecting infants, and they warn the measure would prevent doctors from making the best medical decisions in sensitive situations.
Meanwhile, influential anti-abortion groups vowed Tuesday to hold Democratic lawmakers’ votes against them.
“Should Democrats continue their extremism, we will work tirelessly to ensure they are punished at the ballot box this November,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, whose group plans to spend a record $52 million this year to reelect Trump and GOP lawmakers.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the lead author of the 20-week ban, who is facing reelection this year, vowed to keep reintroducing the bills year after year no matter how many times they’re voted down.
“These pieces of legislation will continue to be advanced until they pass,” he said.