Biden lays out long-shot strategy for codifying abortion rights

During a Friday conference call with Democratic governors, President Biden further outlined his plan for getting rid of the Senate filibuster rule to enable Congress to codify national abortion rights.

“As I said yesterday, the filibuster should not stand in the way of us being able to do that,” Biden told the governors about carving out an exception to the 60-vote rule in the Senate required to advance legislation. “But right now, we don’t have the votes in the Senate to change the filibuster at the moment. That means we need two more votes now — not now, when we vote, probably after November. More senators and the House majority elected in November to get this bill to my desk.”

In other words, Biden acknowledged that short of winning more seats in the Senate and holding on to a Democratic majority in the House, there was nothing his party could do to ensure that the right to have an abortion would be preserved for women nationwide.

Democrats will have to hope that the abortion ruling has changed the election calculus and result in a wave at the polls. Even in the days after Supreme Court’s decision, Republicans look to be on a glide path to retake control of the House and perhaps even the Senate, according to the polling analysis site FiveThirtyEight. If either one of those outcomes happens, Biden’s plan to codify Roe will be scuttled.

US President Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting with Governors to discuss efforts to protect access to reproductive health care, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House campus on July 1, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
President Biden meeting with governors onFriday. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the Supreme Court's decision overturning abortion rights, seven states have already banned the procedure outright, while another four have issued new restrictions and 11 more have legislation pending to do so.

That changing landscape is what Democrats are now focused on in their midterm campaigns. To hear Biden tell it Friday, it would energize voters and reverse what had previously been seen as an all-but-certain loss of congressional seats.

In the absence of enough votes to do otherwise, Biden acknowledged, there wasn't any other option available.

"This is going to go one way or the other after November," Biden said.