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The petition still needs 14 more signatures
The House of Representatives' newest Republican member has put his name behind an effort to bring up a key piece of pro-life legislation for a vote on the floor.
Politico reported Tuesday morning that one of Rep. Jeff Van Drew's first legislative actions since switching to the Republican Party would be signing a discharge petition for a pro-life bill that would mandate medical care for the survivors of botched abortions. Tuesday evening, the House Republican Conference announced via tweet that Van Drew had signed the petition.
"We need just 14 Democrats to sign this to give lifesaving care to babies who survive an abortion," the announcement said. "It's time for Congress to take up the #BornAliveBill and #EndInfanticide."
The bill in question, the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, is an anti-infanticide measure that drew considerable attention on Capitol Hill after remarks by Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's now-infamous abortion comments kicked off a national debate about abortion and infanticide early last year.
During a Senate vote on the legislation in February, 44 of the upper chamber's Democratic members voted against the upper chamber's version of the bill. The bill needed 60 votes to pass, but failed in a 53-44 vote.
Lawmakers began the discharge petition effort last April in an effort to bring it to the floor despite the opposition of Democratic House leadership. If a discharge petition gets the 218 signatures needed for a majority of the House, the related legislation can be brought up for a vote, regardless of the whims of the House's majority party. Van Drew's signature brings the total number of signatures to 204, still short of the 218 needed.
Van Drew, a freshman House member from the state of New Jersey, announced that he would switch parties as a result of the House's impeachment efforts against President Donald Trump last month. He told Fox News that the "final straw" in his decision to change parties was being threatened with political consequences by a local Democratic Party county chairman if he didn't vote to impeach the president.
President Trump formally welcomed the congressman to the GOP during a public White House meeting the day after the impeachment vote.
During his time as a House Democrat, Van Drew earned a 100% rating on Planned Parenthood Action's congressional scorecard for his first year in Congress, which was criticized by the National Republican Congressional Committee in May.
The congressman's signature on the discharge petition comes during the same week as President Trump's re-election campaign announced a rally in Van Drew's congressional district for late January.
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