Wed. Nov 30th, 2022

President Biden is expected to say Tuesday that if the American people elect more Democratic senators and keep the House in November, the first bill he will send to Congress will codify Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion access across the country, according to a Democratic official. And the president would sign the bill around the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade

Mr. Biden will mention this goal during a Democratic National Committee speech at Howard Theatre in heavily Democratic Washington, D.C. 

But obtaining enough Democratic support in Congress is a high hurdle. The president already has majorities in both chambers of the Capitol but lacks the 60 votes needed in the Senate to get the legislation passed. And it’s likely to become even more difficult after the midterm elections — there are no major pollsters who currently project Democrats will maintain control of the House. 

One possibility Democrats explored was lowering the 60-vote threshold to pass an abortion access bill by eliminating the filibuster, a legislative move that would require just 51 votes — but that’s two more votes than they currently have, since two Democrats oppose that approach. 

The president, too, has said Democrats need two more seats in the Senate to codify Roe, which seems to account for the “no” votes that would be cast by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

“If you give me two more senators in the United States Senate, I promise you, I promise you, we’re going to codify Roe and once again make Roe the law of the land,” Mr. Biden said last month at the National Education Association, in Washington, D.C.

While Democrats have chipped away at Republicans’ lead in the battle for House control, helped along by motivated abortion-rights voters, among other factors, Democrats have not been able to grow the number of people prioritizing the abortion. 

The president and other Democrats are focusing on abortion access as a key issue in the 2020 midterms, after the Supreme Court struck down Roe in June. The Biden administration has tried to protect access to abortion as much as it can unilaterally, but the president has acknowledged there is only so much he can do without a supportive Congress. 

— Ed O’Keefe, Gaby Ake and Caitlin Huey-Burns contributed to this report



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