President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats were enraged by the Supreme Court’s ruling last week to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the right to regulate abortions to the individual states.
The president on Thursday discussed potential options to try and protect abortion rights in pro-life states, particularly by codifying such rights via legislation, which would necessitate a carve-out or complete abolishment of the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold, the Daily Wire reported.
Even if the filibuster were no longer an obstacle in the Senate to legislation codifying Roe v. Wade, however, that would not guarantee passage, as prior attempts to do so fell short of even reaching the 51-vote majority needed for a bill to be passed by the chamber.
Biden calls for abortion rights carve-out to Senate filibuster
It was during a press conference Thursday in Madrid, Spain that President Biden was asked what he was considering doing in terms of executive actions to protect abortion rights, but Biden deferred on offering any specifics until after he had returned home and participated in a planned meeting with various state governors.
“But the first and foremost thing we should do is make it clear how outrageous this decision was and how much it impacts not just on a woman’s right to choose — which is a critical, critical piece — and on privacy generally. On privacy generally,” Biden said.
“I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade into law. And the way to do that is to make sure that Congress votes to do that,” he continued. “And if the filibuster gets in the way — it’s like voting rights — it should be we provide an exception for this — the exce- — the — require an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision.”
When pressed by another reporter on his apparent expressed support for altering the Senate’s filibuster — an idea he has generally been cool to in the past — Biden confirmed that he did support ending the filibuster with regard to the “Right to privacy, not just abortion rights. But, yes, abortion rights.”
Democratic Sens. Manchin and Sinema still a “No” on altering filibuster
Unfortunately for President Biden, his call for the Senate to end the filibuster with regard to abortion rights will not come to fruition, as Reuters reported that two Senate Democrats — Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) — both reiterated their opposition to any alteration of the Senate’s longstanding tradition of requiring 60 votes to advance most legislation.
Both a spokesman for Manchin as well as an aide for Sinema confirmed to the media outlet that the respective positions of those two senators with regard to the filibuster remained unchanged.
Thus, given the current 50-50 partisan split in the Senate, the votes of every single Democratic senator — including Manchin and Sinema, plus Vice President Kamala Harris in a tie-breaker role — would be required to make any changes to the filibuster.
Ending the filibuster would backfire tremendously on Democrats
Setting aside the particular issue of abortion rights or any of the other issues for which Democrats have demanded special carve-outs of the filibuster — such as voting rights — creating certain exceptions or outright abolishing the filibuster is a remarkably short-sighted idea by Democrats that would almost certainly backfire on them once Republicans eventually regain control of the legislative body.
Case in point, it was former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) who in 2013 imposed a filibuster carve-out for judicial nominations, which just a few years later was embraced and expanded by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to include Supreme Court nominees, which in turn led to the current Republican majority on the high court and the recent rulings that Democrats have found so disagreeable.