June 30 (UPI) — President Joe Biden said on Thursday that favors eliminating the filibuster in the U.S. Senate after the Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade and removed national protections for legalized abortion.
Speaking at the NATO summit in Spain, the president told reporters that the filibuster — a procedural rule in the upper chamber that allows one party to block legislation — should not get in the way of restoring protections for legalized abortion by codifying Roe vs. Wade into federal law.
Although Democrats hold the slightest of majorities in the Senate — a 50-50 split with Vice President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaker — they are not presently able to codify legalized nationwide abortion into law because the filibuster requires 60 votes for any such effort to pass. That means they need at least 10 Republican senators to favor abortion-rights legislation, a prospect that is all but impossible.
Biden has previously bristled against removing the filibuster, but he said on Thursday that the Supreme Court’s “outrageous” ruling has persuaded him that it’s necessary.
“We have to codify Roe vs. Wade into law,” Biden said. “And the way to do that is to make sure the Congress votes to do that.
“And if the filibuster gets in the way … it should be [that] we provide an exception to this, requiring an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision.”
Biden mentioned that the move to eliminate the filibuster is also necessary because federal voting rights legislation has also been blocked in the Senate by Republicans.
Senate Democrats previously explored ending the filibuster after the voting-rights bills failed to get through the upper chamber earlier this year, but moderate Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona both rejected the attempt.
Both senators expressed concern about ending the filibuster under any circumstances, partly because of the long-term implications that could have when Republicans regain control of the Senate.
Biden, however, said that the abortion issue deserves special consideration for a carve-out in the filibuster rule because the Supreme Court ruling was “destabilizing” — and because, according to polling surveys, a majority of Americans consistently say that they favor abortion rights.
“It is a mistake, in my view, for the Supreme Court to do what it did,” Biden added. “I feel extremely strongly that I’m going to do everything in my power, which I legally can do in terms of executive orders, as well as push the Congress and the public.”
Since the Supreme Court made its ruling a week ago, many states have already banned abortions and others are close to prohibiting the procedure.