The Senate will hold a vote on same-sex marriage legislation until after November’s midterm elections, with negotiators seeking more time to lock in support, making the bill more likely to ultimately pass the chamber.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the lead Democratic negotiator of the bill that would codify same-sex marriage nationwide, said Thursday that more time is needed to negotiate the issue with Republicans, and that she wants to delay any vote in the Senate until after the midterm elections in November. .
“We are very confident that the bill will pass, but it will take a little more time,” Baldwin told CNN.
Democrats had initially eyed a Senate vote before this fall’s midterms, possibly as soon as next week. Now, Baldwin says he wants the bill out “the day after the election.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to hold a vote on the bill, but the timing remains uncertain as it remains unclear whether 10 GOP votes will be needed to overcome a filibuster and advance the legislation to final passage.
Democrats have pushed for a vote on the Supreme Court’s Roe v. After Wade was overturned, raising fears that the court may target same-sex marriage in the future.
A Senate vote on same-sex marriage before the end of the term could put vulnerable Republicans in a tough spot for re-election. And lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say the fast-approaching midterms have added a complicating factor to efforts to lock down the votes needed to pass a bill. Pushing the timeline back to the end of the midterms makes it more likely that the key test vote will be successful.
The bipartisan group has been negotiating with a few Republicans concerned about religious freedom who have indicated they may vote for the bill if it is amended.
Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who has been closely involved in the effort, confirmed the group wanted to delay the vote, saying GOP senators are asking for “more time to digest.”
“The possibility of a strong bipartisan vote after the election seems likely,” Portman said.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, said, “Those who have been negotiating this want an outcome” and the prospects improve after the election. The group recommended that Schumer be retained.
Tillis told reporters that there had been concern before the election that voting on the same-sex marriage bill was a political move.
“Some said the timing of the vote was political. This is clearly, I think, a situation where we want to make our members feel comfortable, and I’m sure we’ll get through it eventually,” Tillis said.
On the bill itself, Tillis said, “We’ve put together language that’s been finalized that I think is incredibly respectful of the input we’ve received on religious freedom.”
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who is running for re-election in Baldwin’s home state of Wisconsin, said he was open to supporting the bill until conservative groups raise concerns about religious liberties.
“People have raised very serious and legitimate concerns about religious freedom,” he said. “I appreciate that the authors of the bill are trying to address this. But this takes some time to consider, okay? They don’t have to hurry, it’s not ready.”
He would not commit to how he would vote if religious freedom concerns were addressed.
This story was updated with additional updates on Thursday.