However, despite Biden’s newly announced support for the filibuster spin-off, his best pick would be next year — and only if Democrats win at least two Senate seats and hold the House of Representatives, an extremely tall task.
When asked what executive action he would take to strengthen abortion rights following the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. After overthrowing Wade last week, Biden said during a press conference in Madrid: “The most important thing … we have to change – I think we’ve got Roe v. Wade must be codified in law.”
“And the way to do that is to make sure Congress votes for it. And if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights — it should be that we make an exception to that… an exception to the filibuster for this lawsuit to deal with 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 an abortion.”
It’s a clear call from a president who has so far refused to push for changes to Senate rules, despite calls from progressives to end the filibuster in a bid to pass his agenda. Biden had told CNN’s Anderson Cooper at a town hall last year that he was willing to change the filibuster to pass a voting rights bill “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 does not have the 60 votes needed to legislate Roe v. Codify Wade under current rules.
Moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have opposed changing the filibuster rules. And although Manchin is willing to accept Roe v. Codifying Wade into law, both senators oppose evisceration of the filibuster, their offices reaffirmed Thursday.
Sinema’s office referenced a Washington Post op-ed the senator wrote last year in which she argued the filibuster was used to protect abortion rights and block things like 20-week abortion bans.
So, without the support of Manchin or Sinema, Democrats would have to sweep to pass abortion rights legislation in November’s election, when their party faces its direst medium-term environment in a dozen years.
Democratic senators who were part of a congressional delegation to the NATO summit in Madrid expressed pessimism, citing Manchin and Sinema’s outsized role in changing the rules.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the second-highest 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 to” look for “massive institutional changes.”
“I voted to end[the filibuster],” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat. “It didn’t pass, so we can take it up again, and we’re not allowed to.”
Despite slacking poll numbers and poor prospects of retaining the Democratic majority in the House, the White House sees a way to win Senate seats to increase its narrow majority.
Holding their current seats and adding at least two new Democratic senators could theoretically pave the way to securing votes for a change in Senate rules.
Biden’s call fits with White House efforts to increase urgency ahead of the midterm elections — and it comes as national Democrats have raised concerns that the Biden administration is not doing enough to address the Supreme Court decision and to fight.
Supreme Court’s behavior is ‘destabilizing’
Biden, speaking in Europe after a series of summits with world leaders, largely contradicted characterizations that America is going backwards. But he acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s rollback of abortion rights and privacy rights had been “destabilizing”.
“We are global leaders when it comes to privacy and privacy rights. And in my view it is a mistake for the Supreme Court to do what it did,” he said.
Those comments drew the ire of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who later called the President’s comments about the court “undeserved and dangerous.”
“Attacking a core American institution like the Supreme Court from the world stage is beneath the President’s dignity,” McConnell, the leading Senate Republican, said in a statement. “Moreover, President Biden’s attacks on the court are undeserved and dangerous. He is upset that the court said the people will have a say in abortion policy through their elected representatives. This does not destabilize democracy – it strengthens it. In contrast, it is behavior like that of the President that undermines equality and the rule of law.”
“I’m the only president they have”
During Thursday’s news briefing, Biden also defended his ability to effectively convey the Democrats’ pro-abortion message. Despite his complicated history on the issue, he told progressive members of his party that they had no choice on the matter.
“I’m the only president they have,” he said.
Some Democrats have criticized Biden for not speaking out louder to protect abortion rights. Since the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade, some have complained that he is unwilling to go far enough to protect access to abortion.
But Biden said he was the one in the White House.
“I am the President of the United States of America,” he said. “That makes me the best ambassador.”
He called the abortion ruling “a serious, serious issue that the court has placed upon the United States,” and linked the decision to other potential issues, such as marriage law.
“I have a very strong belief that I will do everything in my power that I can legally do in relation to executive orders,” he said.
During Thursday’s press conference, the president said he would meet with governors on Friday to discuss abortion issues and “then have announcements to make.”
Biden will meet virtually with attendees, who include Democratic governors. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, Kathy Hochul of New York, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, JB Pritzker of Illinois, Gavin Newsom of California, Kate Brown of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington, according to a White House official. The President comes out of the White House.
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.