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Analysis: House Republicans Defeat Sex-Selective Abortion Bill, Virginia Senate Race Heats Up

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David Hawkings, CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

Representatives from Maryland and Virginia voted along party lines yesterday in defeating a bill to ban sex-selective abortion. It would have penalized doctors who performed abortions based on gender. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate race in Virginia is taking a new turn. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, provides details on the stories. Following are highlights of analysis.

On why the sex-selective abortion bill required a two-thirds majority: "The House Republican leadership can bring up a bill two ways: one of which is without any amendments and a very brief debate, but when they do it that way, it requires a two-thirds vote. The Republican leadership apparently decided they didn't want to spend too much time on this bill--they didn't want to have it out on the floor for amendments and long speeches... they want it over quickly because they really don't want abortion politics to become a big front-page story. They want to keep it on the economy. That's what Mitt Romney wants. So they put the bill on the floor, under these rules, that require a two-thirds vote."

On Sen. Trent Franks, and whether or not anti-abortion is his signature issue: "It has become a signature issue this term. The chairman of a judiciary sub-committee would have jurisdiction over this sort of thing. He's mostly been known as absolutely one of the most conservative and socially conservative members of the House Republican Caucus... He's mostly been about hawk and pro-missile defense, but when he got this chairmanship he decided to become the leader of the anti-abortion crusade in the House."

On Sen. Mitch McConnell's statement about the Virginia race being one of the best chances for Republican pick-up this fall: "I'm fascinated by it because it seems closer than the other ones he mentioned. There are some clearer pickup opportunities where the Republicans are way ahead on the polls. In Virginia, by contrast, there's an organization called Real Clear Politics that does a polling average. Their most recent polling average... showed a virtual tie after about eight different polls. So it's surprising to me that McConnell sees this as one of his best pickup opportunities. But it's a clear signal that the Republican leadership sees Virginia as one of the great battleground states for this election year."

Listen to the full analysis here.

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