State lawmaker vows to filibuster all bills until GOP withdraws abortion, gender-affirming care bans

Nebraska state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh (D) on Thursday pledged to filibuster every bill on the state’s legislative agenda this session if two Republican-backed bills seeking to ban both abortion and gender-affirming health care for transgender youth are not immediately withdrawn.

“If this legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority, then I am going to make it painful; painful for everyone,” Cavanaugh, one of just 17 Democrats in Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, said Thursday at the state capitol in Lincoln. “Because if you want to inflict pain upon our children, I am going to inflict pain upon this body.”

“I have nothing, nothing but time,” Cavanaugh said, “and I am going to use all of it.”

The Omaha Democrat’s comments came during an evening debate on a bill that would alter how property tax refunds are processed in the state. Cavanaugh introduced five motions and three amendments to the bill, all of which failed.

“I want to annoy you,” Cavanaugh told her colleagues on Thursday. “I want you to genuinely be frustrated to all get out with me.”

Cavanaugh’s filibuster aims to slow the progress of two controversial bills moving through the Nebraska legislature. One of them, Legislative Bill 626, would establish a fetal heartbeat law that bans abortions after cardiac activity is detected, with some exceptions in cases of sexual assault, incest or medical emergency.

The other, Legislative Bill 574, officially titled the “Let Them Grow Act,” would bar health care professionals from providing gender-affirming health care to transgender youths younger than 19.

The measure would also prohibit state funding from being distributed “directly or indirectly” to entities, organizations or individuals who provide “gender altering procedures” to patients younger than 19.

“You cannot stop me,” Cavanaugh said Thursday. “I will not be stopped.”

“So, if L.B. 574 gets an early floor debate and moves forward, it will be very painful for this body,” she added.