On Thursday, President Joe Biden endorsed creating an exception to the Senate filibuster rule in order to enshrine abortion rights protections under federal law.
Speaking to reporters at a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, Biden decried “outrageous behavior” by the Supreme Court, referring to its ruling last week to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had established federal abortion rights protections. The Court’s decision to withdraw those protections was “destabilizing” for the country, he said.
This is only the second time that Biden has called for changes to the filibuster rule, which requires a 60-vote threshold. Earlier this year, the president said that he would support a filibuster carveout to pass voting rights legislation.
“We have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law, and the way to do that is to make sure the Congress votes to do that,” Biden said on Thursday.
In order to ensure that such a vote is successful, Biden said that the Senate must “provide an exception” to the filibuster for reproductive rights.
However, there is little chance that the filibuster will be changed, given that right-wing Democrats Sens. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) are both fierce defenders of keeping the filibuster in place.
Biden went on to encourage Americans to vote in this year’s midterm races.
“If the polling data is correct and you think this decision by the court was an outrage or a significant mistake, vote, show up and vote,” Biden said. “Vote in the off-year and vote, vote, vote. That’s how we’ll change it.”
Biden’s calls to vote have been criticized by progressives and reproductive rights advocates, who have pointed out that Democrats had ample time to prepare for the ruling but took little action.
“In a legitimacy crisis, the solution Biden + Dem leaders must offer can’t just be one of voting, but of statute & authority,” Progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) wrote in a recent Twitter thread.
“For the moments when we DO insist on elections, we must be PRECISE with what we need and we will do with that power,” she went on. “How many seats does the party need to Codify Roe? Dems must SAY THAT. Not just ‘go vote’ or ‘give us $6 to win.’ That is demoralizing, losing, unfocused nonsense.”
While Biden has publicly claimed that he will do everything in his power to address the ruling, the president has faced criticism this week for reportedly cutting a deal behind the scenes with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to nominate an anti-abortion judge to a lifetime appointment in Kentucky. The deal was purportedly made to ensure that McConnell and Republicans wouldn’t obstruct future judicial nominations that Biden makes elsewhere, though many are skeptical that McConnell will honor the terms of the agreement, given his history of blocking critical judicial nominations.