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Analysis: Republicans Propose D.C. Abortion Bill; Thaddeus McCotter Resigns

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David Hawkings, CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

Members of Congress return to Capitol Hill this week and among the first orders of business will be consideration of a bill to ban abortions in D.C. after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except if a woman's life was in danger. The House Judiciary Committee will take up the bill Tuesday.

Also during the July Fourth recess, Rep. McCotter (R-Mich.), the once-esteemed member of the Republican leadership, resigned from his seat. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing,  talks with WAMU 88.5 Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about what to expect as Congress returns from their break.

On why this abortion bill is getting traction now:"The Republican party is looking to do what it can, even in the face of not being able to enact legislation. Nobody really thinks that this bill is going to become law this year," says Hawkings. "The Republicans want to create favor within their political base, which includes abortion opponents. It will hopefully help them raise some money with these people and get their votes this fall in some tight congressional races."

On why this bill is so controversial in D.C.: "It's notable, as Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said when she learned that this bill was moving, that this bill focuses only on the District, it does not focus on the  rest of the country, where it would be more controversial," says Hawkings. "It doesn't even allow for the normal exceptions that would allow abortions in the case of a rape or an incest, [the only exception is] if the life of the mother is in danger. It actually goes further than many abortion restrictions in the rest of country."

On the opposition from the D.C. government:"There's very little they can do substantively to resist this. Del. Norton doesn't even have a vote on the House floor and she doesn't sit on the judiciary committee," says Hawkings. "So what they can only do is protest it symbolically."

Why Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) resigned during the Congressional recess: "His career has come to a ignoble end. He was once a rising star in the Republican leadership, but it seems as though he let that get away from him. He actually mounted a quixotic campaign for president earlier this year, then lost track of his own re-election race, realized very late that he hadn't done the paperwork required to get on the ballot back in Michigan," says Hawkings. "There is some evidence that his staff tried to skirt the rules to get him on. When that was exposed, he gave up his campaign to run as a write-in."

On the revelation of McCotter's Hill-themed screenplay: "Then it was revealed last week that he had penned a screenplay, a little bit sexy and out of bounds, making fun of life on Capitol Hill and even his own staff," Hawkings says. "This seemed to be his last straw, and now he's hanging it up all together. What's at issue now is that he's left with a safe Republican seat in Michigan, where the Republicans have to run a write-in campaign to try and hold the seat."

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