President Biden Concedes Dems Don’t Have Filibuster Votes to Codify Abortion Bill

President Joe Biden acknowledged Friday the Democrats lack the votes to overcome the legislative filibuster and then pass abortion rights legislation, while adding the party should instead focus on picking up Senate seats in the November midterms.

Biden’s comments come on the heels of Democratic Party senators calling for a change to filibuster rules, which require 60 votes to end debates on most legislation.

Such a move would enable lawmakers to pass legislation codifying Roe v. Wade, the abortion ruling which was overturned by the Supreme Court last week (a 5-4 decision).  

“Ultimately, Congress is going to have to act to codify Roe into federal law,” Biden said on Friday, during a virtual meeting with Democratic governors on reproductive rights.

“The filibuster should not stand in the way of us being able to do that, but right now we don’t have the votes in the Senate to change the filibuster,” conceded Biden. “That means we need two more votes” in the Senate. 

The Senate status is currently deadlocked at 50-50, between Republicans and Democrats.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have previously expressed opposition to changing the filibuster rules and reportedly reiterated their respective stances to White House personnel on Thursday.

During his meeting with the governors, Biden repeatedly stated he thought Republicans would try to ban abortion nationwide, if they achieve majorities in the House and Senate for the midterm elections.

“This is going to go one way or the other after November,” said the president.  

While speaking to Newsmax host Bianca de la Garza on Friday, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said Democrats know abortion rights aren’t a slam-dunk issue with Americans come November, given how a Rasmussen poll suggests half the country supports the recent Supreme Court rulings.

“[Democrats] can’t even say the word ‘abortion’ because it’s so vastly unpopular in large sections of America. And yet, they’re using it as a way to prime the vote in November. It’s their one issue,” said Buck while appearing on “American Agenda.”

Buck continued, “The Dobbs decision [6-3 vote] allows the state legislatures to make decisions. That’s where the decisions should be made, and that’s where the legislation should occur.

“Stepping in and guaranteeing a one-size-fits-all [answer] to abortion is wrong. [Democrats] know it’s wrong. They know it’s unpopular. But they’re going to try to get their base stimulated,” Buck said.

During Friday’s virtual conference, Biden heard from nine Democrat governors, including Kathy Hochul of New York, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Roy Cooper of North Carolina, about the steps needed to protect access to abortion in their states.  

Citing one example, Hochul discussed her plans to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution and subsequently shield providers and women from out-of-state lawsuits. 

Hochul, who’s running for reelection in New York’s gubernatorial race this November, also argued that Biden could do more with his executive authority, such as using federal facilities like Veterans Affairs hospitals for abortion services.

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RNC Spanish-language Ad Targeting Vulnerable Senate Dems in 4 Battleground States

The Republican National Committee (RNC) unveiled a Spanish-language ad in four battleground states Friday, targeting Senate Democrats who are perceived to be vulnerable on the economy.

The Spanish-language ad, running in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania, focuses on Hispanics and Latinos achieving their version of the American dream, despite the current wave of Democrat leaders allowing “the hope for a better life to become a relic of the past.”

“Under [President Joe] Biden and Democrat control, the American dream is slipping away for many. From skyrocketing prices to surging crime to the disastrous border crisis, Democrats have failed the Hispanic community,” said RNC Communications Director Danielle Alvarez.

She added, “While Democrats focus on winning the ‘Latinx’ vote, Republicans are on the ground talking about the issues that matter and winning the Latino vote. This November, Hispanics will choose Republican leadership that shares our values of economic opportunity, freedom, and security.”

Alvarez’s reference to “Latinx” pokes fun at the Democrats for publicly using that term when addressing Hispanics and Latinos for more than a year, before polling revealed that only 2% of the Latino population acknowledges the moniker.

And perhaps worse, a majority of Latinos found “Latinx” to be offensive, or politically patronizing.

The four Democrats being targeted in the new ad: Incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and current Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who’s up against GOP Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in the Keystone State’s general election.

Historically speaking, the economy and generational wealth have been top-of-mind issues with Hispanic and Latino voters in the United States, according to The Hill.

And Republicans have been actively targeting the votes for both communities, says Alvarez.

Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, who recently became the first Republican in 150-plus years to win the Rio Grande Valley congressional district, says Latinos and Hispanics are embracing the Republicans’ America First agenda.

The Hispanic community is “pro-God, pro-life, pro-family, [and] all about hard work,” when Democrats increasingly aren’t, Flores recently said on Newsmax.

“My father sees that the Democrat Party walked away from him,” says Flores, who was born in Mexico before immigrating to the U.S. at age six.

“He sees that the party has gone so far left. They’re focused on nonsense like ‘Latinx,’ you know they’re focused on … pronouns, and not the real issues that are affecting real people here in South Texas and honestly throughout the country.”

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Report: Sen. Blackburn Introducing Bill Shielding National Guard From Vaccine-Related Firings

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is set to introduce legislation Thursday that would ban federal funds to any government entity or program requiring members of the National Guard to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a report from The Daily Caller.

This news coincides with Thursday reports of 40,000 U.S. Army National Guard members being fired for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

If Blackburn’s legislation should pass the House and Senate chambers, it would block servicemembers from being removed over vaccine hesitancy.

“Our servicemembers are the bedrock of America,” Blackburn told TDC this week. “Firing 40,000 Guardsmen for refusing the COVID vaccine would be both a complete disgrace and a threat to our national security. I am honored to stand beside our National Guardsmen and women by introducing this legislation to protect them from President Biden’s forever pandemic.”

“We’re going to give every soldier every opportunity to get vaccinated and continue their military career. Every soldier that is pending an exemption, we will continue to support them through their process,” Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, told the Associated Press, regarding vaccine mandates.

“We’re not giving up on anybody until the separation paperwork is signed and completed. There’s still time.”

Citing an Associated Press report, Ricky Shelton, a Tennessee National Guard captain from Grainger County who is a member of the 230th Sustainment Brigade, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press he had been unsuccessfully trying to meet with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, in advance of the June 30 firing date.

“They’ve ignored and they’ve ignored and diverted and tried to avoid whether it’s an event we invited them to or whatever it may be,” said Shelton. “So, they’ve avoided us like a plague.”

Here are the components of Senator Blackburn’s proposal:

  • No federal funds may be used to require a member of the National Guard to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The Secretary of Defense may not take any adverse action against a member of the National Guard, due to that person’s COVID-19 vaccine refusal.
  • The Department of Defense, or any other government entity, wouldn’t be able to retaliate, dole out punishment, or treat a National Guard member disparately for not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Blackburn’s proposal comes two days after Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, reportedly asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to ”indefinitely postpone” enforcing the DOD’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the state’s Army National Guard.

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AOC Calls for Filibuster Reform or Abolishment

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Thursday issued a statement calling “to reform or do away with” the filibuster after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, in response to news that the Supreme Court had cut back the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, “catastrophic. A filibuster carveout is not enough. We need to reform or do away with the whole thing, for the sake of the planet.”

She later added, “The issue [with] ‘elect 2 Dems for Roe’ is it’s not clear that’s the [number]. We need to count votes. Filibuster needs 51, but it’s not just [Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.,] holding out. What to do? CALL YOUR DEM SENATOR [and] ask them to CLEARLY support an abolished or talking filibuster.”

Ocasio-Cortez also tweeted a link to a PBS article listing what each Democrat in the Senate has said about changing or ending the filibuster.

“Here’s a tracker,” she added in the tweet. “Now, go down this list and find your Senator. If they only say they’re ‘open to reform,’ that’s not enough. We need a clear position. If their position isn’t abolished or talking filibuster, or if their answer isn’t clear, CALL THEM.”

Ocasio-Cortez also suggested that callers “be polite and firm,” and said that “if your Senator DOES support reform or abolishment, call and THANK THEM. Trust me, honey works with vinegar. It emboldens their fight.”

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Senate Sergeant-at-Arms During Jan. 6 Attack Dies

The Senate sergeant-at-arms during the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack, died Monday, it was reported.

Michael Stenger, who as sergeant-at-arms [SAA] oversaw security in the upper chamber, resigned the day after the Capitol assault.

“Former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger died this morning. He joined the SAA team in 2011 after a career with the Secret Service and was appointed SAA in 2018,” Politico’s K Tully-McManus tweeted Monday.

Stenger, 71, died on the same day the House Jan. 6 select announced it would hold a surprise hearing on Tuesday to present “recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony.”

News of Stenger’s death — circumstances of which were unknown — created unsubstantiated speculation and conspiracy theories online, Newsweek reported.

However, noted conspiracy theorist expert Mike Rothschild said there was nothing to indicate that Stenger had been due to testify before the Jan. 6 panel on Tuesday.

“Tons of conspiracy theories about recently deceased Senate Sergeant at Arms on January 6th, Michael Stenger. There’s no indication he was due to testify, and reports about him shot from a moving car seem to be mixed up with another Michael Stenger, shot in 2013,” tweeted Rothschild, whose post included text of a shooting in Oakland, California, nine years ago.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., tweeted, “Michael Stenger, Senate Sergeant at Arms on January 6th, was found dead today.”

Greene’s post included video of Stenger speaking before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Committee on Rules and Administration in February 2021. He said the Jan. 6 demonstrators were “professional agitators.”

“In conclusion, whenever you prepare for a major event, you must always consider the possibility of some level of civil disobedience at these demonstrations and plan accordingly,” Stenger said in a statement before the committees.

“The events of January 6th went beyond disobedience. This was a violent, coordinated attack where the loss of life could have been much worse.”

Stenger, House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving, and Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund resigned after the Jan. 6 attack after criticism over the lack of preparation.

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Poll: Markwayne Mullin Leads Oklahoma Senate Primary

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., has a commanding lead in the Republican race to succeed GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe, new polling shows.

In the latest averaging of the Senate primary contest polling from, Mullin has a 26-point lead over his next closest challenger, former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon.

Mullin, whose district includes most counties in eastern Oklahoma, has ticked up support to 39% while Shannon’s has slipped to 13% in the latest newest Sooner polling.

GOP state Sen. Nathan Dahm was at 8%; Inhofe’s former chief of staff, Luke Holland, garnered 5%; and former Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt notched just 2%.

The winner of the special election Tuesday will fill the rest of the six-year term left by Inhofe, who was last elected in 2020. Inhofe announced he would resign on Jan. 3, 2023, to spend time with family.

If no candidate garners more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held on Aug. 23.

Mullin has campaigned on making the country energy independent, lowering inflation, and defending the Second Amendment.

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Rep. Brooks Slams ‘Flawed’ Jan. 6 Hearings, Offers Conditions for Testifying

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., on Thursday wrote a lengthy letter to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, unrest at the Capitol, detailing his feelings about being subpoenaed for testimony and questioning the fairness of hearings that don’t provide opportunities for witness cross-examination.

Brooks also submitted a series of conditions for providing sworn testimony to the House panel, all of which were available for public consumption on his Twitter account.

The letter initially reads:

“I understand the Committee wishes to depose me concerning January 6 events and have heard rumor the Committee ‘issued’ a subpoena for my appearance. I have on countless occasions been in public venues in Alabama, in my Congressional office, on the House Floor, and numerous places in between, yet no Committee subpoena has been served. This is puzzling.

“I don’t believe I have knowledge of January 6 events that are not already known or that add to what the Committee already knows.

”As the Committee knows, I have already made multiple, lengthy sworn statements in the Eric Swalwell lawsuit in federal court and made multiple, lengthy written and oral statements elsewhere.

”Presumably, the Committee has already obtained and reviewed these statements,” said Brooks, who recently lost Alabama’s GOP runoff primary for a U.S. Senate seat to Republican Katie Britt.

“I have numerous reservations about the Committee. Here are a few examples:

  • “The Committee refused to seat all of the majority party’s Republican appointees (a first in the history of the House of Representatives). This means minority party witnesses who might illuminate different views are less likely to be called and appropriate cross-examination questions are not asked, thereby failing to reveal truth (the purported goal of the Committee). No court of law would use such a flawed process. Why? Because judicial processes are designed to find truth.”
  • “The Committee insists on doing the public’s business (deposing witnesses) clandestinely and in secrecy. Hence, the Committee’s processes conflict with time-honored judicial processes designed to maximize the likelihood that viewers reach a fair, just and accurate impression of the truth of a matter.”
  • “I have read about leaked witness testimony. This distorts truth perception among the American people because the testimony leaked is in bits and pieces, not the whole, thereby depriving Americans of testimony and facts needed to make an informed decision about January 6 events.”
  • “A witness’s demeanor is critical to determining veracity and truth. This is one of the reason why judges and juries responsible for discerning truth view witness testimony in person. Failure to observe live testimony, in its entirety, reduces the ability of Americans to determine the truth of this matter.”

Regarding the conditions for offering sworn testimony, Brooks is seeking:

(1) A public hearing: The testimony must be provided in an open setting, meaning that TV/Web viewers would have live access to Brooks’ comments.

(2) Jan. 6 scope: Every question must have relevance to the events of that day in 2021.

(3) Questions by congressional leaders only; congressional staffers and any other non-elected leaders would not be permitted to submit queries to Brooks.

(4) Document disclosure: Brooks would require a minimum of seven days of preparation time, before commenting on prior statements, electronic communications, written communications, etc.

(5) Deposition date options: The testimony must be provided on days when Brooks was already slated to be in Washington.

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Trump-Backed Katie Britt Tops Rep. Brooks for Alabama GOP Senate Nomination

Katie Britt won the Republican nomination for Senate in Alabama on Tuesday, defeating six-term Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., in a primary runoff after former President Donald Trump took the unusual step of rescinding his endorsement of Brooks.

The loss ends a turbulent campaign for Brooks, a conservative firebrand who fully embraced Trump’s election challenges and had run under the banner “MAGA Mo.” But it was not enough for the former president, who initially backed Brooks in the race to replace Britt’s former boss, retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., but then pulled his support as Brooks languished in the polls.

Trump eventually endorsed Britt in the race’s final stretch after she emerged as the top vote-getter in the state’s May 24 primary. She will face Democrat Will Boyd in November in the overwhelmingly Republican state.

The race was among a handful of contests held Tuesday at the midpoint of a primary season that has been shaped by Trump’s effort to influence the GOP.

While Britt was already considered the favorite by the time Trump got behind her, the result gives the former president a victory at a time his influence over the GOP has come under scrutiny.

The Alabama Senate runoff had drawn particular attention because of the drama surrounding Trump’s endorsement. Trump initially endorsed Brooks in the spring of 2021, rewarding an ardent champion of his claims of a stolen election. Brooks had voted against certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory and delivered a fiery Jan. 6 speech at the rally before the Capitol was stormed by protesters, telling the crowd, “Today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”

But nearly a year later, Trump rescinded his support after the pair’s relationship soured and as Brooks languished in the polls. Trump blamed his decision on comments Brooks had made months earlier, at an August rally, when he said it was time for the party to move on from litigating the 2020 presidential race — comments Trump claimed showed Brooks, one of the most conservative members of Congress, had gone “woke.”

Brooks, who is known for his bombastic oratory style, has described the primary race as a battle for the soul of Republican Party, pitting the “true conservative” wing against establishment members of the GOP. He disparaged Britt, 40, as a “RINO” — the GOP pejorative meaning “Republican in name only” — and maintained he was the only one with a proven conservative record.

The founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus also made his opposition to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a pillar of his campaign, embarking on a “Fire McConnell Tour” of town halls.

In his concession speech Tuesday night, Brooks told supporters he respected the race’s outcome. But in a sign of the contentious race, he accused voters of having been seduced by false advertising and congratulated high-dollar donors and “special interest groups” for funding Britt’s campaign.

“We are sending to Washington, D.C., the exact opposite of what we need in the United States Senate. But the voters have spoken. They might not have spoken wisely,” he groused.

Britt, meanwhile, cast herself as part of a new generation of conservative leaders while disparaging Brooks, 68, as a career politician. If victorious in November, Britt will be the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama and one of its youngest members. The state’s previous female senators had been appointed.

“Alabama has spoken. We want new blood. We want fresh blood,” she said at her victory party. “We want someone who will fight for Christian conservative values, who will fight for the freedoms and liberties this nation was founded on and will fight for the American dream for the next generation and the next generation.”

That argument seemed to resonate with some voters Tuesday.

“She’s young. She’s smart,” said 86-year-old Carolyn Bowman. “That’s what we need in Congress.”

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Alabama Polls: Katie Britt Surges After Trump Endorsement

The Alabama GOP primary runoff between Katie Britt and Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., was close just a week ago, but the endorsement of former President Donald Trump might make it a runaway, the latest polls show.

Britt is a runaway favorite in Tuesday’s runoff against Brooks, who had his endorsement pulled when he told an Alabama Save America rally GOP voters should stop looking back at the 2020 presidential election integrity issues.

The Trump endorsement is being hailed as a catalyst, including Friday’s Alabama Forestry Association poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates:

  1. Britt: 58.4%.
  2. Brooks: 32.6%.
  3. Undecided: 9.0%.

That poll is not unlike a pair of others bills on RealClearPolitics.

The Hill/Emerson College Poll has Britt with 59% support and Brooks at 41% – when it forced respondents to make a decision.

The Auburn University Poll had Britt up 20 points, with 50% support to Brooks’ 30% support.

All three polls came after Trump endorsed Katie Britt on Friday, June 10, doubling down on the former president’s decision to spurn his previous choice in the Republican primary.

Trump called Britt “an incredible fighter for the people of Alabama.” The former president had originally backed Brooks in the race, but rescinded that endorsement in March after their relationship soured.

Britt was chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., before stepping down to lead a state business group, and is now running to fill Shelby’s vacant seat. Britt and Brooks face off in the June 21 runoff that will decide the Republican nominee.

“Above all, Katie Britt will never let you down,” Trump wrote, adding, “she has my complete and total endorsement!”

The decision was another blow to Brooks, who had sought to regain Trump’s support.

“Mo has been wanting it back ever since, but I cannot give it to him!” Trump wrote. “Katie Britt, on the other hand, is a fearless America First Warrior.”

Trump endorsed Brooks last year, rewarding the conservative firebrand who had been an ardent supporter of Trump’s 2020 election fraud claims. Brooks had whipped up a crowd of Trump supporters at the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol.

But Trump pulled that endorsement, citing Brooks’ languishing performance in the race and going “woke” for saying at a Cullman rally it was time to move on from litigating the 2020 presidential election and focus that energy on upcoming elections instead.

Britt led the primary field in the May primary, and has been seeking Trump’s support since he backed away from Brooks.

“President Trump knows that Alabamians are sick and tired of failed, do-nothing career politicians,” Britt said in a statement. “It’s time for the next generation of conservatives to step up and shake things up in Washington to save the country we know and love for our children and our children’s children.”

Despite losing Trump’s endorsement in March, Brooks had continued to campaign under the label of “MAGA Mo,” a reference to the Make America Great Again slogan, and had challenged Britt to a debate on the singular topic of whether the 2020 election was “stolen.”

Brooks tweeted voters of Alabama will decide the race.

“Let’s just admit it: Trump endorses the wrong people sometimes,” Brooks wrote, noting a Trump-endorsed candidate lost the 2017 Senate race in Alabama.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Fauci Joins Senate Hearing Remotely After Testing Positive for COVID-19

Dr. Anthony Fauci on June 16 joined a Senate hearing after testing positive for COVID-19.

Fauci, 81, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, tested positive on Wednesday.

The National Institutes of Health, which employs Fauci, said the doctor was experiencing mild symptoms.

Fauci has received not only a primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine, but two boosters, due to the waning effectiveness of the shots.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2. The elderly are one of the most vulnerable groups to the disease.

Opening the Senate Health Committee hearing, Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), said that Fauci would be testifying remotely.

“Dr. Fauci, we do appreciate you joining us virtually, following your positive COVID test and of course we all do wish you a very speedy recovery,” she said.

“Tony, I hope you have a mild case,” added Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the top Republican on the panel.

Fauci, dressed in a suit and tie, did not address his own health during his opening statement or during early answers to questions.

He appeared to be tuning in from his home.

“Dr. Fauci will isolate and continue to work from his home,” the NIH said in its statement.

The agency said that Fauci would be following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends people who get COVID-19 isolate for five days, and medical advice from his physician.

Fauci does not plan on returning to the NIH until he tests negative.

Fauci tested positive on a rapid antigen test.

It wasn’t clear whether Fauci had been tested again with a polymerase chain reaction test, which is more reliable than an antigen test, or additional antigen tests.

A number of high-profile people have tested positive on an antigen test but soon tested negative once or multiple times, indicating a false positive.

During the hearing on Thursday, Fauci talked up vaccines, which have declined in effectiveness against both infection and severe illness as new variants of the CCP virus have emerged, including the Omicron variant.

“This variant has evolved with multiple mutations that are associated with an increased efficiency of transmission and immune evasion. Fortunately, our current vaccines have maintained their effectiveness in preventing severe COVID-19,” Fauci said.

“However, individuals who have received only their primary vaccine regimen have a greater likelihood of getting infected with the Omicron variant that with previous variants. And so importantly, booster shots have been shown to significantly reconstitute and enhance the level of antibodies that neutralize the Omicron variant and its sublineages.”

However, Fauci later acknowledged that there is “not enough data” to show a reduction in hospitalization or death for children who get a booster shot.


Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.

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