Some top Senate Democrats are reportedly considering weaving same-sex marriage legislation into a coming spending bill that would keep the government open past the end of the month.
Both Punchbowl News and CBS News reported on the details of the possible move Tuesday. Tucking federal same-sex marriage protections into a continuing resolution — which would reportedly fund the government through at least the beginning of December — could help or significantly harm either cause. By attaching the marriage equality questions to a must-pass spending bill, Republicans wary of going on the record on marriage equality could stand behind the vote as a necessary shutdown-avoidance move. Or they could use the provision to blow up the funding resolution altogether.
The same-sex marriage bill would essentially repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and would offer federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage, which, as we’ve reported, were both singled out by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his opinion overturning Roe v. Wade as privacy rulings he feels the court should reexamine. Since then, Democrats and some Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) have worked to shore up same-sex marriage rights at the federal level, to avoid having to do the same backtracking work abortion supporters are doing now in Congress.
The bill passed the House in July, with all Democrats and nearly 50 Republicans voting in favor of it. That support from House Republicans gave Democrats and Collins some reason to think a similar bill would have the support of at least the 10 Republicans needed to overcome the filibuster in the upper chamber. But GOP leadership has largely avoided engaging on the issue, with some senators, like Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) pretending the right is not under threat and therefore a Democratic ploy unworthy of the Senate’s time.
TL;DR it is unclear if any of this will happen. Democrats may decide it is too risky to give Republicans any room to blow up a must-pass spending bill — the fiscal year ends on September 30 — and risk a government shutdown ahead of midterms. The White House has reportedly requested that at least $47 billion in funding for COVID, monkeypox and funding for Ukraine be included in any short term spending bill.
We’ll keep an eye on where this next showdown is headed.
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