UNITED STATES NEWS

Abortion adds to Biden’s all-but-impossible to-do list

May 6, 2022, 7:00 PM | Updated: May 8, 2022, 3:35 pm
President Joe Biden walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, May 6, ...

President Joe Biden walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, May 6, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s list of impossible tasks keeps getting longer.

Despite lofty promises he’s made, from the campaign trail through his first year in office, he has limited power to safeguard voting rights or expand the fight against climate change on his own.

And now it’s become clear that Biden has no good options for preserving abortion access as the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

It’s a disorienting and discouraging state of affairs for Democrats, who control both Congress and the White House for the first time in more than a decade.

But the reality is the party holds only the narrowest of majorities in the Senate, and there simply aren’t enough votes to guarantee abortion rights, especially with the filibuster in place.

Biden’s pledge to codify Roe v. Wade into law seems destined for the same rocky shoals where other parts of his agenda, like tax credits for clean energy or legislation that would preempt state voting restrictions, have already run aground.

Perhaps the most succinct explanation came from Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., earlier this week.

“We’re stuck,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has scheduled a vote on abortion for next Wednesday, but it’s almost certain to fail. Republicans are united in opposition, and a handful of Democrats may not support it either.

The impasse is forcing the White House to reopen its backup playbook — scrounging for ways to make a difference through executive action or regulatory steps while criticizing Republicans for the lack of broader action.

“The White House is under enormous pressure to be more forceful and vocal,” said Lawrence Gostin, who runs the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health at Georgetown Law.

But Gostin, who is advising administration officials on next steps, said, “Biden needs to stick with winnable battles” by focusing on “low hanging fruit.”

One of those ideas involves making abortion medication more accessible by mail. The Food and Drug Administration has already eliminated the requirement to pick up the pills in person, and Gostin said the practice will need an aggressive defense as it faces conservative attacks.

The Justice Department has already gone to court over abortion access, suing Texas last year in an effort to stop a law that would ban most abortions.

Another concept, Gostin said, would be allowing Medicaid to pay for travel if a woman can’t get an abortion in her own state. Such a plan might run afoul of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions, so it would require careful wording.

For example, the policy could say Medicaid would pay for travel for authorized medical treatment if it’s not legal where the patient lives — making no mention of abortion.

None of these proposals are foolproof, and they will likely face Republican challenges in the courts or through legislation.

“It’s like whack-a-mole,” Gostin said. “Anytime a woman tries to overcome state restrictions, they make them tighter.”

These kinds of administrative steps are similar to what Biden has done when other initiatives have stalled on Capitol Hill.

On voting, for example, he signed an executive order intended to make it easier to register, and the Justice Department is ramping up its efforts to protect ballot access.

In addition, Biden included some climate policies in the infrastructure legislation that passed last year, and regulators are strengthening rules on vehicle emissions.

“The president is incredibly proud of what he’s already accomplished in 15 months of his presidency,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

Asked about Biden’s struggles on Capitol Hill, Psaki pointed to his long experience as a senator.

“He knows and understands it sometimes takes more time than he would like to get your agenda forward,” she said.

However, abortion stirs even greater passions than other issues across the political spectrum, and frustration about inaction is bubbling up.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who wants his state to become a refuge for people seeking abortions, said this week that Democrats are falling short.

“Where the hell is my party?” he said. Abortion opponents are winning, Newsom added. “We need to stand up. Where’s the counteroffensive?”

Cecilia Muñoz, a senior adviser at New America, a left-leaning think tank based in Washington, said in an interview earlier this year “there’s an assumption that the president has a magic wand that he doesn’t always have.”

She saw that firsthand as director of President Barack Obama’s Domestic Policy Council, when the White House increasingly relied on executive actions to make progress toward its goals despite Republican opposition.

“I think the advocacy community has gotten used to the idea that there are shortcuts,” she said. “But there are no good shortcuts.”

Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said the expected end of Roe v. Wade will require activists to use different tactics.

“The American people are used to relying on the courts to protect their fundamental freedoms,” she said. “And now we really have to get folks used to shifting their attention to legislators, members of Congress, legislative bodies. And that’s going to be a little bit of a culture shock and a little bit of a shift in the way we think.”

Democrats seem likely to lose control of Congress in the November elections, especially with Biden’s sagging approval ratings. However, some hope that the Supreme Court decision will fire up their voters.

“What you’re looking for in politics is an opportunity,” said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster. “There’s an opportunity that wasn’t there before this came out.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, rejected the idea that voters are frustrated by Biden’s ability to deliver on some of his priorities.

“If we show the fight we need to show … our voters will come out in large numbers,” he said before Biden toured a metal company in his state Friday. He added, “They know if we had a few more members of the Senate, a lot of those things they care about would have been enacted.”

Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian, compared Biden’s situation to President Harry Truman, who was floundering as he ran for reelection in 1948. He turned his campaign into an indictment of a “do-nothing Congress,” which was controlled by Republicans at the time, and he managed to pull off a narrow victory.

The goal, Beschloss said, is to “take a bad hand and play it perfectly.”

Biden is trying a similar tack ahead of the midterms, escalating his criticism of other Republican proposals.

He repeatedly points to a blueprint from the National Republican Senatorial Committee that would increase taxes on people at the lower end of the income scale and force federal programs like Social Security to be reauthorized every five years.

“I’ve offered a different plan — a plan rooted in American values of fairness and decency,” Biden said Wednesday.

And he warns that Republicans won’t stop at abortion and could target other rights that were earned through the Supreme Court, such as access to birth control or same sex marriage.

“This MAGA crowd” — a reference to Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan — “is really the most extreme political organization that’s existed in recent American history,” Biden said.

__

Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

United States News

Associated Press

Jury convicts Wisconsin man in fatal hate crime crash

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) — A jury in Wisconsin has convicted a man accused of intentionally targeting a motorcyclist in a fatal crash because of the victim’s race, in a two-phase trial that will eventually determine the defendant’s mental state at the time. Daniel Navarro, a 27-year-old Mexican American from Fond du Lac, was […]
11 hours ago
FILE. - The Flint water plant tower is seen, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in Flint, Mich. Jurors heard f...
Associated Press

Jury can’t reach verdict in engineers’ Flint water trial

DETROIT (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial Thursday after jurors said they couldn’t reach a verdict in a dispute over whether two engineering firms should bear some responsibility for Flint’s lead-contaminated water. Four families accused Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newman, known as LAN, of not doing enough to get Flint to […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Armed man approaches FBI office, exchanges gunfire with cops

CINCINNATI (AP) — An armed man decked out in body armor tried to breach a security screening area at an FBI field office in Ohio on Thursday, then fled and exchanged gunfire in a standoff with law enforcement, authorities said. The confrontation at the FBI’s Cincinnati field office comes as officials warn of an increase […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Man arrested in death of co-worker at Michigan GM plant

ORION TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A cleaning service employee who was working at a General Motors plant in Michigan was killed Thursday during an altercation with a co-worker, authorities said. It’s not clear what led to the fight at the Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township or how the person was killed. Authorities said they […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Beto O'Rourke, Democratic candidate for Texas governor, speaks during a town hall meeting at...
Associated Press

Beto O’Rourke responds to heckler over Uvalde with expletive

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democrat Beto O’Rourke responded to a heckler at a campaign stop with an expletive after the Texas gubernatorial candidate heard a cackled laugh while criticizing the ease with which the Uvalde elementary school gunman legally purchased an AR-15-style rifle. By Thursday, video of O’Rourke’s exchange at a town hall in rural […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Review: Post Malone concert doc is all flash, no substance

NEW YORK (AP) — There’s a moment in Post Malone’s new concert film when its star confesses to how surreal his life has become: “Sometimes I feel like I’m not a real person.” Fans will get no clarity on that astounding statement after watching Amazon’s “Post Malone: Runaway,” a limp, uninspiring 60 minutes of flash […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Abortion adds to Biden’s all-but-impossible to-do list