Biden calls for scrapping filibuster rules to pass abortion rights into law

However, despite Biden’s recently announced backing of the filibuster exclusion, his best bet to do so would be next year — and only if Democrats win at least two Senate seats and hold the House of Representatives. an extremely heavy task.

Asked what executive action he would use to bolster abortion rights following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last week, Biden told a news conference in Madrid: “The most important thing…we need to change — I believe we need to codify Roe v. Wade into law.

“And the way to do that is to make sure Congress votes to do it. And if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like the right to vote — it should be (that) we make an exception to that …requiring a filibuster exception for this action to address the Supreme Court decision,” he added.

The president then clarified that he was also open to changing the filibuster rules for the “right to privacy, not just the right to abortion.”

It’s a blunt plea from a president who has so far been loath to push for any changes to Senate rules despite pleas from progressives to remove the filibuster in order to push through his agenda. Biden had told CNN’s Anderson Cooper at a town hall last year that he would be open to changing the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation “and maybe more.” His comments on Thursday mark the first time he has expressed his full commitment to eliminating the filibuster specifically for abortion rights.

The Senate lacks the 60 votes needed to codify Roe v. Wade under current rules.

Leading moderate Democratic senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona voiced their opposition to the filibuster rules change. And although Manchin is open to legislative codification of Roe v. Wade, both senators oppose the gutting of the filibuster, their offices reiterated Thursday.

Sinema’s office pointed the finger an editorial from the Washington Post the senator wrote last year in which she claimed the filibuster had been used to protect abortion rights and block things like 20-week abortion bans.

So without Manchin or Sinema’s backing, Democrats would have to sweep November’s election — as their party faces the bleakest midterm environment in a dozen years — in order to pass legislation. on the right to abortion.

Democratic senators who were in Madrid as part of a congressional delegation attending the NATO summit were pessimistic, pointing to the outsized roles of Manchin and Sinema in changing the rules.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, told reporters in Madrid that in a 50-50 Senate, “the idea of ​​changing the rules is really at the mercy of one or two senators who can make that decision for us.”

He added that “this is not the political environment in which to seek” “massive institutional change”.

“I voted to end (the filibuster),” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire. “It didn’t pass, so we can take it back, and we may not.”

Despite declining poll numbers and dim prospects of maintaining the Democratic majority in the House, the White House sees a way to win Senate seats to boost its slim majority.

Retaining their current seats and adding at least two new Democratic senators could, in theory, pave the way to securing votes for a change in Senate rules.

Biden’s call comes as part of the White House’s efforts to step up the emergency ahead of the midterm elections – and it comes amid growing fears among National Democrats that the Biden administration will do not enough to respond and fight the Supreme Court decision.

The behavior of the Supreme Court is “destabilizing”

Biden, speaking after a series of summits with world leaders in Europe, broadly disputed characterizations that America is backing down. But he acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse the right to abortion and the right to privacy was “destabilizing”.

“We have been a leader in the world in terms of personal rights and privacy rights. And it is wrong, in my opinion, that the Supreme Court does what it did,” said- he declared.

Those comments angered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who later called the president’s comments on the court “undeserved and dangerous.”

“Attacking a fundamental American institution like the Supreme Court from the world stage is below the dignity of the president,” said McConnell, the senior Senate Republican, in a statement. “Beyond that, President Biden’s attacks on the Court are undeserved and dangerous. He is upset that the Court has said that the people, through their elected representatives, will have a say in the policy of “abortion. It does not destabilize democracy – he asserts it. On the other hand, it is behavior like that of the president which undermines equal justice and the rule of law.”

“I am the only president they have”

During Thursday’s press conference, Biden also defended his ability to effectively deliver the Democrats’ message on abortion. Despite his complicated history on the matter, he told progressive members of his party they had little choice in the matter.

“I’m the only president they have,” he said.

Some Democrats have criticized Biden for not speaking out louder about protecting abortion rights. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, some complained that he was unwilling to go far enough in protecting access to abortion.

But Biden said it was him in the White House.

“I am the President of the United States of America,” he said. “That makes me the best messenger.”

He called the abortion decision “a serious and serious problem that the court has imposed on the United States”, tying the decision to other potential issues such as marriage rights.

“I’m extremely confident that I’m going to do everything in my power, what I can legally do in terms of executive orders,” he said.

At Thursday’s press conference, the president said he would meet with governors on Friday to discuss abortion issues and would have “announcements to make after that.”

This story has been updated with more from Thursday’s press conference.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Lauren Fox, Ted Barrett and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.

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