- President Joe Biden said he would support suspending the Senate filibuster rule to codify abortion rights established in the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
- His comments represent critical support for suspending a key procedural hurdle that has thus far prevented Senate Democrats from making the decision federal law.
- "If the filibuster gets in the way — like [with] voting rights — we provide an exception for this," Biden said. "We require an exception of the filibuster for this action."
President Joe Biden on Thursday said he would support suspending the Senate filibuster rule to codify the constitutional right to an abortion as established by the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 ruling to Roe v. Wade.
His comments represent critical support for suspending a key procedural hurdle that has thus far prevented Senate Democrats from passing legislation that would make the decision federal law. Current Senate rules require the majority party to muster 60 votes to overcome the minority's attempt to block the advance of a bill, a procedural action known as a filibuster.
"I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade into law. And the way to do that is to make sure Congress votes to do that," Biden told reporters in Spain.
But with the Senate split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, the GOP has been able to use the filibuster rule to stop the slim Democratic majority from approving abortion bills.
"If the filibuster gets in the way, it's like voting rights, we provide an exception for this," Biden said. "We require an exception of the filibuster for this action."
The president doubled down on his stance later in the day in a post to Twitter.
Biden's comments come a week after the nation's highest court overturned nearly 50 years of legal precedent by reversing its original opinion that women have a constitutional right to an abortion. They also mark the first time the president has publicly supported changing the filibuster rules to pass legislation codifying Roe v. Wade into law.
The court's controversial ruling last week now grants states the power to pass their own abortion laws without worrying about running afoul of the Roe opinion, which had allowed abortions during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.
The president said he's scheduled to meet with state governors on Friday to discuss their options until Democrats in Congress cement their response. Echoing the belief held by many Democrats, Biden added the reversal "is a serious, serious problem the Supreme Court has thrust upon the United States."
"I'm going to do everything in my power I legally can do in terms of protecting abortion, as well as pushing Congress and the public," he said.
But even with Biden's backing that doesn't mean Democrats will be able to force abortion legislation through the Senate. That's because, while the filibuster could be changed with a simple majority vote, not all Senate Democrats are behind the idea of tossing out a way to check future Republican majorities.
Moderate Democrats Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, for example, have said they are against changes to the filibuster rules.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is opposed to any changes to the filibuster rule, criticized Biden's remarks.
"Attacking a core American institution like the Supreme Court from the world stage is below the dignity of the President," he said in a press release on Thursday. "Biden's attacks on the Court are unmerited and dangerous. He's upset that the Court said the people, through their elected representatives, will have a say on abortion policy."