Senate Democrats defeated a budget-reconciliation amendment Sunday that would have limited federal pregnancy programs to biological females, rejecting the Republican challenge to gender-inclusive terms such as “pregnant people.”
The amendment brought by Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, failed on a 51-50 vote during the marathon vote-a-rama on the sweeping $740 billion climate, tax and healthcare package.
Every Republican voted for the amendment, while all 48 Democrats and the two independent senators who caucus with them voted against it. Breaking the tie in the 50-50 Senate was Vice President Kamala D. Harris.
“Federal funding should reflect reality: only women can get pregnant. Unfortunately, it looks like my Democrat colleagues don’t trust ‘the science’ after all,” said Mr. Rubio in a statement after the vote.
His amendment, which would have clarified that only women can become pregnant for purposes of maternal and infant-related program funding, drew floor opposition from Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat.
“Let’s be here about what’s going on here: This is a procedural attempt by Republicans to derail our ability to get this bill across the finish line and deliver for families in our country,” Ms. Murray said. “You know, it’s actually outrageous that Republicans are trying to talk about pregnancy when in this country right now, they are forcing women to stay pregnant no matter their circumstances, pushing cruel and extreme abortion bans.”
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) August 7, 2022
Mr. Rubio said when introducing his amendment over 15 hours into the so-called vote-a-rama that in 5,500 years of recorded human history, “so far every single pregnancy has been a biological female.”
“The only thing I’m trying to do is make sure that federal law is clear, that since every pregnancy that’s ever existed has been in a biological female, that our federal laws reflect that, and our pregnancy programs are available to the only people who are capable of getting pregnant: biological females,” he said. “Very simple.”
Democrats have increasingly sought to substitute terms like “pregnant people” for “pregnant women” in government documents in a nod to the gender-identity movement, which holds that “trans men are men,” referring to biological females who identify as men.
Trans men can still have ovaries and a uterus, and thus become pregnant as women do.
Ms. Murray said it was “outrageous that Republicans are trying to define pregnancy of all things on this floor, on this day, after hours of voting on amendments.”
Republicans lacked the votes to defeat the underlying bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, but took advantage of the floor debate to bring roll-call votes on about three dozen amendments, forcing Democrats to take stands on hot-button issues ahead of the midterm election.
The defeated amendments included proposals to tighten border security; promote oil-and-gas lease sales on federal lands and waters, and increase funding for police.