President Biden indicated Thursday that he supports an exception to the 60-vote threshold needed to advance legislation in the Senate to codify abortion and privacy rights following the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade.
“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. And if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, it should be, we provide an exception for this. The exception – the required exception of the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision,” Biden told reporters at a press conference in Madrid, Spain, Thursday.
Pressed moments later to clarify that he was opening to changing filibuster rules for those issues, Biden said, “Right to privacy, not just abortion rights, but yes, abortion rights.”
Codifying Roe v. Wade requires 60 votes in the Senate, which it does not currently have, unless the filibuster rules are changed to require a simple majority. Key moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have expressed opposition to changing filibuster rules. Manchin, however, is open to codifying Roe v. Wade legislatively.
Biden also said he would be meeting with governors Friday to receive their feedback and would have “announcements to make then.”
“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, but on privacy generally, on privacy generally. And so I’m going to be talking to the governors as to what actions they think I should be taking, as well. But the most important thing to be clear about: we have to change, I believe we have to codify Roe v Wade in the law,” he said.
More context: There has been no indication those two senators, Manchin and Sinema, have or will change their positions.
But Biden’s call does dovetail with the White House efforts to ramp up the urgency in advance of the midterm elections – and it comes as national Democrats have increasingly raised concerns that the Biden administration is not doing enough to address – and fight – the Supreme Court decision.
Despite flagging poll numbers and poor prospects in holding onto the Democratic majority in the House, the White House sees a path to gaining Senate seats to increase their narrow majority.
Holding their current seats and adding at least two new Democratic senators could, in theory, create the pathway to securing the votes for a Senate rules change.