Schumer promises Senate vote on same-sex marriage bill 'in the coming weeks'

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks following a Democratic policy luncheon at the US Capitol in September 2021 in Washington, DC. Schumer said that he intends to hold a vote on a bill to codify same-sex marriage into federal law "in the coming weeks," and hopes there will be enough Republican support to pass it.

By Ali Zaslav, Jessica Dean and Clare Foran, CNN

(CNN) -- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday that he intends to hold a vote on a bill to codify same-sex marriage into federal law "in the coming weeks," and hopes there will be enough Republican support to pass it.

Schumer also said he would prefer to bring it to the floor as a separate piece of legislation, and not attached to a must-pass government funding bill.

"Let me be clear a vote will happen -- a vote on marriage equality will happen on the Senate floor in the coming weeks, and I hope there will be 10 Republicans to support it," Schumer said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

The Senate returned to Washington after the August recess this week and Democrats, who control the chamber, must decide how and when to hold votes on several key items ahead of the upcoming November midterm elections where control of Congress is at stake.

The main must-pass legislative item on the to-do list is a bill to extend government funding past a September 30 deadline and avert a shutdown, but Democrats are also pushing to hold a vote on same-sex marriage. There have been questions over whether the same-sex marriage bill could be attached to the government funding measure, but prominent supporters of the bill have pushed back and argued it should take place as a stand-alone vote.

Schumer on Wednesday said of the same-sex marriage legislation, "we would prefer to do it as a separate bill. We hope there are 10 Republicans to help us with that," when asked if it would be attached to a must-pass government funding bill.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy told reporters on Wednesday that same-sex marriage legislation will not be included in the continuing resolution, otherwise known as a "CR" -- a short-term government funding package to avert a shutdown.

"Not going to happen," the Vermont Democrat said of adding the bill to the funding measure.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also expressed support for a "clean" stop-gap bill to extend government funding at a separate news conference, implying that additional items should not be attached, though he did not specifically reference the same-sex marriage bill.

"I think the key to getting the CR done with the least amount of controversy is for it to be as clean as possible," he said.

Momentum -- and support -- has picked up on Capitol Hill for a Senate vote on a bill to codify same-sex marriage after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. The Democrat-led House of Representatives passed a bill to enshrine protections for same-sex marriage into federal law in July, amid fears among Democrats that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court could take aim at same-sex marriage in the future.

Democrats could use the issue to force a tough vote for vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in November, but it's still not clear if the necessary support would ultimately be there to pass the legislation. At least 10 Republicans would have to vote with all Democrats to overcome a filibuster and pass the legislation.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin said that they are "darn close" to getting 10 Republicans on board.

Asked if the bill could come to the floor before the midterms, Baldwin said, "Oh, absolutely," and she added that folding it into the continuing resolution to fund the government is "not my preferred route."

"I think we should have a vote sooner rather than later," she said.

Several negotiators working to finalize a bill that would codify same-sex marriage also told CNN that they are still trying to finalize key provisions dealing with "religious liberty."

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said negotiators are working to "ensure that religious liberties are not infringed upon" by the bill. She also stressed that they want the bill to be voted on separately and not added to the short-term government funding bill.

"I think we're making good progress. It's important that the bill be considered independent of the CR. If it is attached to the CR, it will politicize the bill," Collins said. "In addition, we're listening to our colleagues who have raised concerns about whether the language could be strengthened ... further to ensure that religious liberties are not infringed upon and that polygamous marriages are not allowed. And I think we're making good progress."

The-CNN-Wire
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