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Here’s Why James Clyburn Is Endorsing Anti-Abortion Rep. Henry Cuellar

Rep. Henry Cuellar is the only Democrat in Congress who opposes abortion rights, but top Democrat James Clyburn is campaigning with the anti-choice congressman.

By Josh Miller-Lewis

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) is the only Democrat in Congress who opposes abortion rights. But even after it became clear this week that the Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House, remains committed to his endorsement of Cuellar and plans to campaign with the anti-choice congressman tonight.

Cuellar, who is locked in a tense primary fight with progressive Jessica Cisneros, was the only Democrat to vote against a bill to protect the constitutional right to abortion. He was also the only Democrat to vote in favor of the discriminatory Hyde amendment this Congress.

Cuellar has a decades-long history of proudly opposing the right to choose. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood, co-sponsored anti-choice legislation with Republicans, and supported restrictions proposed under President Donald Trump on abortion and reproductive healthcare.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, Cuellar’s vote could be crucial to passing federal legislation to protect a woman’s right to choose and stopping dozens of states, including Texas, from criminalizing abortion.

In contrast to Cuellar, Clyburn, like the vast majority of Democratic voters, is a strong advocate for abortion rights. But their sharp differences on the issue raises questions about why Clyburn is standing behind his endorsement of Cuellar at this critical moment. A likely explanation — Clyburn and Cuellar share an affinity for soliciting corporate donations to fuel their campaigns.

Clyburn and Cuellar share dozens of the same corporate donors. Both congressmen were among the top recipients of business PAC money in the 2020 election and have each received nearly $1 million already this cycle.

The American Bankers Association has contributed large sums to Clyburn’s and Cuellar’s leadership PACs. The lobbying arm of Wall Street has worked aggressively on behalf of banks like JP Morgan Chase to deregulate the banking industry and roll back protections meant to prevent another financial crisis.

Both representatives have also received significant contributions from Walmart, the largest low-wage employer in America. 

They have taken tens of thousands of dollars from Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, two of biggest defense contractors in the country, while voting repeatedly to increase America’s bloated defense budget. 

And they’ve both raked in cash from drug and fossil fuel companies, like Pfizer and Chevron, who have aggressively fought efforts to lower drug prices and combat climate change.

Cuellar’s opponent Jessica Cisneros has rejected corporate PAC money and is a strong proponent of abortion rights. She is demanding that Clyburn and other congressional leaders drop their endorsement of Cuellar.

“As the Supreme Court prepares to overturn Roe v. Wade, I am calling on Democratic Party leadership to withdraw their support of Henry Cuellar who is the last anti-choice Democrat in the House,” Cisneros said in a statement. “With the House majority on the line, he could very much be the deciding vote on the future of our reproductive rights and we cannot afford to take that risk.”

Democrats in South Texas will choose their next representative in a runoff election May 24.

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