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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