March 22, 2013 — As part of debate on its fiscal year 2014 budget proposal (S. Con. Res. 8), the Senate on Friday approved an amendment by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to support women's access to family planning and contraceptive services, including employer-sponsored contraceptive coverage, CQ Roll Call reports.
"Sadly, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancy in the industrialized world," Shaheen said, adding, "And preventing unintended pregnancy just makes fiscal sense." According to CQ Roll Call, beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday, senators are set to consider two other amendments -- one Democratic and one Republican -- that correspond with Shaheen's proposal (Holden, CQ Roll Call, 3/22).
On Thursday, Senate leaders reached an agreement to vote on 10 amendments, including four they voted on that evening (Holden, CQ Roll Call, 3/21). The remaining amendment votes began around 11 a.m. on Friday, after which lawmakers are expected to move on to a series of rapid votes on some of the hundreds of other amendments that have been proposed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday morning said the Senate likely would vote on only a few dozen of those amendments (Kasperowicz, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 3/22).
Completing the amendment votes would position the Senate to hold a final vote on its budget proposal -- written by Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) -- as early as Saturday (Wasson, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 3/21).
Antiabortion Amendments Offered
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Thursday introduced an amendment that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in Washington, D.C., The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Lee's measure -- which is based on the disputed theory that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks -- would permit exceptions if a woman's life is at risk.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) called the measure a ploy to undermine Roe v. Wade. Lee "professes to believe in states' rights and local control of local affairs," but "[h]is actions suggest otherwise," she said (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/21).
Meanwhile, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) introduced an amendment that would support the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, which would ban abortions sought because of the sex of the fetus (Lesniewski, Roll Call, 3/21).