To un-endorse federal personhood, Gardner must speak from House floor

Rep. Cory Gardner un-endorsed Colorado’s personhood amendment last month by telling The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels he changed his mind.

But if Gardner is going to un-endorse federal personhood legislation, which he cosponsored nine months ago, he’ll have to trot down to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and ask for “unanimous consent” to have his name removed from the legislation, which would ban all abortion, including for rape and incest.

“A member has go to the House floor and technically ask for unanimous consent to remove their name as co-sponsor of the bill,” said Sarah Binder, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And you can do that up until the point at which the committee reports the bill to the floor.”

If you’re completely bored and you feel like reviewing the “Life at Conception Act,” which is a federal personhood bill, you’ll find Gardner’s name is still listed as a cosponsor, having signed up nine months ago.

So it appears Gardner hasn’t un-endorsed the bill yet, but calls to the Gardner’s office and to the office of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) were not returned.

Gardner still has time to remove his name, because the House committee hasn’t reported on the bill, which means the committee hasn’t voted on it.

During an interview on CBS4 Friday, Gardner suggested that he may not take back his support of federal personhood legislation. And he defended his anti-abortion record in Congress during a recent radio interview as well.

“In the state of Colorado, the personhood initiative, I do not support,” Gardner told CBS4 Political Reporter Shaun Boyd.

Boyd should have asked Gardner if he has plans to withdraw his cosponsorship of federal personhood and, if so, when.

“It’s somewhat rare for members to feel compelled to take their names off bills,” said Binder, but she could understand how the pressure of a state-wide campaign would put “heat” on Gardner.

But if you Google the phrase, “I ask unanimous consent to remove my name as a cosponsor,” you find examples of Congresspeople doing this. Here’s an example.

“By and large, people cosponsor bills to take a position in support, either because something’s bothering them or because a colleague has said, ‘I’d like to demonstrate support for the bill; I need you to sign on,’” Binder said.

If a change of heart occurs, a Congressperson can’t just announce the switcheroo in writing, according to Donald Wolfensberger, Congressional scholar with Woodrow Wilson Center. A short speech on the House floor is required, he told me.

Wolfensberger’s and Binder’s views comport with House rules I ploughed through.

One congressional document, titled “House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House” states:

Before the bill is reported, Members may remove their names as cosponsors by unanimous consent. Manual Sec. 825. Alternatively, a cosponsor may announce withdrawal of support for a bill, or a statement indicating that an error was made in the listing of a cosponsor’s name may be made on the floor for publication in the Congressional Record. Deschler Ch 16 Sec. Sec. 2.5, 2.6.

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