Jun 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House Democrats push birth control vote in pressure campaign on GOP

Reps. Nikema Williams, Katherine Clark and Kathy Manning standing in front of the Capitol.

Reps. Nikema Williams, Katherine Clark and Kathy Manning. Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for MomsRising.

House Democrats are launching a discharge petition on Tuesday aimed at forcing a vote on legislation to protect access to contraception, according to multiple sources familiar with the plans.

Why it matters: It's part of a broader push by Democrats to put abortion rights, contraception and fertility services at the political fore as the 2024 election heats up.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the Senate will vote on the bill on Wednesday, though it is unlikely to garner the necessary 60 votes to pass.
  • House Democrats' discharge petition would need 218 signatures to force a House floor vote, meaning several Republicans would need to sign on even if all Democrats do.
  • The discharge petition was first reported by the New York Times.

Driving the news: The discharge petition will be announced at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, led by House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.).

  • The bill, introduced by Manning, would prohibit states from passing laws restricting access to contraception.
  • It is co-sponsored by 203 House Democrats but no Republicans.

Between the lines: The discharge petition is an effort to put endangered Republicans on the spot and pressure them to help provide the signatures to bypass GOP leadership and force a floor vote.

  • Clark has been pressed by Democratic colleagues and candidates to amplify contraception in their districts and call out Republicans on the issue, a source familiar with the matter told Axios.

What they're saying: Several House Republicans in districts President Biden won in 2020 did not rule out signing onto the discharge petition.

  • Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) said it is "certainly something that I'll think about" because "there's real need to establish that women and families should have access to contraception."
  • Rep. Anthony D'Esposito (R-N.Y.) noted he has "signed onto Democratic discharge petitions already" and said the bill is something "I'll read, for sure."
  • "I do support access to contraception," said Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-Va.), who said she will "take a look" at the bill.

Yes, but: Republican leadership has pushed hard against their members signing onto discharge petitions and essentially doing an end-run around their authority.

  • Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.), another Biden-district Republican, said he is "not likely" to sign on, noting he hasn't "joined a [discharge petition] so far."
  • Nevertheless, one discharge petition – on a GOP-led bill to provide tax relief to victims of natural disasters – has succeeded in garnering 218 signatures this Congress.
Go deeper