With renewed concerns about the economy seeming to boost Republicans’ chances in next month’s midterm elections, President Biden will deliver a speech on abortion Tuesday in an effort to remind voters what’s at stake for women and families.
According to a Democratic official, Biden plans to go further than he has in recent remarks on the subject of reproductive rights. Biden, the official said, plans to promise voters that he’ll make legislation codifying the abortion protections enshrined for 49 years in Roe vs. Wade his first priority when the new Congress gets underway in January — if Democrats can hold the House and increase their Senate majority from 50 to 52.
Democrats now control the evenly divided Senate because of Vice President Kamala Harris’ ability to break a tie vote. But they need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, and two members of their caucus oppose a rule change that would allow them to codify Roe with a simple majority vote. With two more Democratic senators, Biden has argued, he’d be able to push ahead. Roughly half of U.S. states have imposed total or partial abortion bans that would be nullified by Biden’s proposed federal law.
Biden’s remarks, which he will deliver at a Democratic National Committee event at the Howard Theater, a few miles from the White House, will mark something of a departure from his recent approach to the midterms.
Although he typically mentions abortion in his stump speeches, it has not been his main focus at recent events, which have focused instead on the benefits of the infrastructure, drug prices and manufacturing legislation Democrats have already passed.
The Supreme Court’s June ruling overturning Roe upended five decades of precedent and outraged supporters of abortion rights across the country. In August, Kansas voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative that would have removed abortion protections in the state, giving Democrats new optimism that the issue could galvanize voters in November and help them buck the historic trend of the incumbent president’s party losing seats in their first midterm election.
Last month, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that his party would advance federal legislation banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation if it gains control of Congress in the midterms.
In recent weeks, numerous polls have shown Republicans gaining ground as the abortion issue has been overtaken by ongoing concerns about inflation.