By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE SENIOR REPORTER
(The Center Square) — U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., both told news outlets Thursday they would not go along with President Joe Biden’s request that Congress remove the Senate filibuster to “codify Roe v. Wade.”
At a news conference in Spain Thursday during Mr. Biden’s last day of an overseas trip, the president called on Congress to codify abortion protections in response to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. But before his plane landed in the U.S. later that day, the two Democratic senators had already stopped his plan dead in its tracks.
“The most important thing to be clear about is I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law,” President Biden told reporters at the news conference in Spain. “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 … require an exception to the filibuster for this action.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 24 in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health that there is no constitutional right to an abortion, sending the issue back to the states to create their own abortion laws.
After the ruling, Sen. Manchin issued a statement saying he wanted both parties to pass legislation together codifying Roe v. Wade. Removing the long-standing filibuster would allow Democrats to pass the law without Republican support in the evenly divided Senate, and would set a vastly different precedent for the legislative body in the future.
“But let me be clear, I support legislation that would codify the rights Roe v. Wade previously protected,” Sen. Manchin said after Roe v. Wade was overturned. “I am hopeful Democrats and Republicans will come together to put forward a piece of legislation that would do just that.”
Republican senators quickly stood against President Biden’s plan as well, clearly hopeful Sens. Manchin and Sinema would join them.
“President Biden, who for decades opposed abolishing the filibuster, is cheering them on,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Ky., wrote on Twitter. “It is my hope and belief Senators Manchin and Sinema will resist this effort to change the rules of the Senate.”
Others voiced their support for President Biden’s plan.
“President Biden is absolutely right,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. “Senate Democrats must end the filibuster and codify the right to an abortion now. If you allow the broken rules of the Senate to stand in the way of guaranteeing basic rights for our people, you don’t really stand for those rights.”
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., suggested after the filibuster battle that although Sens. Sinema and Manchin have said they would not support ending the filibuster, they may not be the only two Democrats that feel that way.
“The issue (with) ‘elect two Dems for Roe’ is it’s not clear that’s the (number),” she wrote on Twitter. “We need to count votes. Filibuster needs 51, but it’s not just Manchin (and) Sinema holding out.”
In his speech in Spain, President Biden also said he is meeting with governors Friday to work on plans to increase abortion access nationwide.
“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,” he said.
President Biden’s comments came after 33 Senate Democrats sent a letter to the president over the weekend calling on him to let the federal government set abortion policy instead of the states.
Casey Harper works at The Center Square’s Washington, D.C., bureau.