Pelosi defends backing pro-life Democrat, blasts GOP for opposing abortion rights bill

The House Speaker says Democrats didn't need Rep. Henry Cuellar's vote to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, which failed in the 50-50 Senate.

Updated: May 13, 2022 - 11:01pm

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended a pro-life Democrat after blasting Republicans for voting against a bill to codify Roe v. Wade into law.

Pelosi said on Thursday that Democrats didn't need Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar's vote to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, which ultimately failed in the 50-50 Senate on Wednesday 49-51. West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin voted with Republicans against the bill.

In January, it was reported that the FBI raided Cuellar's office and home as part of an investigation related to the country of Azerbaijan. Pelosi was asked why she is supporting Cuellar's reelection given his pro-life stance and the FBI raid.

"I'm supporting Henry Cuellar," she said. "He's a valued member of our caucus. The FBI has said he is not under investigation, and so it's up to his constituents to make the decision to send him to Congress.

"He is not pro-choice, but we didn't need him. We passed the bill with what we had. And by the way, this is one of the first congresses that we have had with a Democratic president with a pro-choice Congress." 

Pelosi, a Catholic lawmaker, contrasted the current House's passage of the abortion rights bill with votes Democrats needed in 2010 to pass the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, after pro-life groups argued that it allowed federal funding of abortion services.

"When President Obama was president, the House Democratic Caucus, we didn't have 218 pro-choice votes, and that's why the Affordable Care Act was the fight that it was at the end because there were those on the outside who were saying 'Oh, it's about, you knorw, Roe v. Wade, and terminating a pregnancy,' which it completely was not," she said. 

Before Pelosi's news conference on Thursday, she issued a statement blasting Republican lawmakers for voting against the abortion rights bill.

"Senate Republicans lined up in lockstep behind Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump to vote to rip away the constitutional right to health freedom from American women across the nation," she said. "While Democrats are fighting to enshrine Roe v. Wade into law, Republicans remain fully committed to punishing and controlling women's most personal health decisions."