Senate delays same-sex marriage vote until after midterms

“We should have a vote when you’ve got the votes. They’ll get more votes than November and December than they get on Monday,” said retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who spoke to Baldwin earlier in the day. “If I wanted [it] to pass and I was the majority leader and I wanted to get as many votes as I could possibly get, I’d wait until after the election.”

Before Baldwin’s announcement, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) had told reporters that she and a handful of other senators had finished their work hashing out changes designed to clarify religious freedom safeguards. She and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) expected the text of the legislation to be released on Thursday.

That would have allowed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to set up a vote next week on a modified version of the measure that passed the House in July. Schumer had allowed Baldwin, Collins and Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) weeks to try and finesse a bill that can get the necessary 60 votes, including 10 Republicans.

Schumer said earlier on Thursday he’s “glad to give them space to lead these negotiations, because this needs to be done and done right.” He was seen as unlikely to proceed with a vote without buy-in from Baldwin and Sinema, particularly if the two Democrats asked for more time to lock up 60 votes.

Portman and other Republicans acknowledged that they don’t yet have 10 Republican votes to break a filibuster.

“We finalized text last night incorporating many of the constructive suggestions we received, and we continue to talk,” Collins said. “I think we’ve made a lot of progress.”

Baldwin and Sinema appeared to be leaving no stone unturned in their quest for votes, hanging out on Thursday on the GOP side of the aisle after drafting the latest version of the bill.

Baldwin handed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) a slip of paper on the Senate floor on Thursday as they chatted amiably, and she also spoke with Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) for an extended period; both Republicans have indicated they are unlikely to support the bill’s previous version. Sinema spoke with Sens. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) at length.

The same-sex marriage bill was prompted by a concurring opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas when the Supreme Court struck down of Roe v. Wade, in which he raised questions about whether the court might need to revisit its 2015 decision protecting same-sex marriage

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