By Jack Crowe
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones’ centrist stance on a number of key issues will likely further the growing distance between the party’s moderates and their more progressive counterparts.
The newly elected junior Senator from Alabama has referred to himself as a “second amendment guy” and, though he supports Obamacare, he remains hesitant to endorse Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ universal health care plan, that has gained broad traction among top Democrats in the latter months of 2017.
Jones, a Democrat who will take his seat in the upper chamber when the legislative session begins Wednesday, positioned himself roughly in line with moderate Republicans on gun control: advocating increased enforcement of existing laws rather than stressing the additional legislative measures that prominent Democrats tirelessly call for in the wake of mass shootings.
“We’ve got limitations on all constitutional amendments in one form or another,” Jones told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. “I want to enforce the laws that we have right now. The biggest issue, I think, that’s facing the Second Amendment right now is that we need to make sure we shore up the National Crime Information System, the NCIC system for background checks, to both keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but at the same time, cut down on error so that law-abiding citizens can get those.”
Jones acknowledges the healthcare system “is broken,” but favors fixes to Obamacare rather than moving toward a single payer system.
“I need to look at those numbers—that’s going to be an expensive proposition,” Jones told Todd of Sanders’ universal healthcare bill in September.
His repudiation of the Democrats’ leftward shift on healthcare places Jones at odds with big names in his party including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, all of whom are both 2020 presidential hopefuls and among the 15 Democratic senators who have endorsed universal health care legislation.
Jones also breaks with the more progressive branch of the party in his support for continued restrictions on late-term abortions.
“I fully support a woman’s freedom to choose what happens to her own body. That is an intensely, intensely personal decision that only she, in consultation with her god, her doctor, her partner or family, that’s her choice,” Jones told Al.com.
“Having said that, the law for decades has been that late-term procedures are generally restricted except in the case of medical necessity,” he said. “That’s what I support. I don’t see any changes in that. It is a personal decision.”
The former prosecutor’s endorsement of current Alabama law, which prohibits voluntary abortion after 22 weeks, stands in sharp contrast to Democrats’ across the board opposition to a recent GOP bill that would criminalize abortion after 20 weeks. The bill passed the House in October and has no yet reached the Senate floor, but will likely be filibustered if and when it does.