Jun 30, 2022
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez applauded President Joe Biden's endorsement Thursday of a filibuster carveout for legislation to codify abortion rights into federal law, but stressed that much more action is needed from the administration as the Supreme Court and Republican legislatures trample basic constitutional freedoms.
"Now we're talking!" the New York Democrat tweeted in response to Biden's remarks to reporters. "Time for people to see a real, forceful push for it. Use the bully pulpit. We need more."
"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."
During a press conference in Madrid, Biden said that he believes "we have to codify Roe v. Wade into law" now that the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority has ended the constitutional right to abortion.
"And if the filibuster gets in the way," the president added, the Senate should alter its rules to "require an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision."
"If you allow the broken rules of the Senate to stand in the way of guaranteeing basic rights for our people," he added, "you don't really stand for those rights."
The 60-vote filibuster can be altered--or eliminated entirely--with a simple-majority vote, meaning Democrats on paper have the numbers to discard the rule that has hindered progress on voting rights, climate action, Medicare expansion, a federal minimum wage increase, and more.
But two right-wing Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have repeatedly refused to support changes to the filibuster, even in the face of GOP voter suppression and the Supreme Court's assault on abortion rights.
Following Biden's comments on Thursday, Sinema's office reiterated that the Arizona senator is opposed to changing the filibuster for any reason, including to shield reproductive rights at the federal level.
While Manchin said after the Supreme Court's ruling Friday that he now supports "legislation that would codify the rights Roe v. Wade previously protected," he signaled that he would not be willing to scrap the filibuster to pass such a bill over GOP objections.
But in December, Manchin and Sinema both supported a filibuster workaround to raise the debt ceiling amid Republican obstruction, putting the lie to the senators' claim to be opposed in principle to bypassing the filibuster.
"This is good news," former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner wrote in response to the president's remarks Thursday. "Now before neoliberals say this is impossible, Manchin and Sinema both carved out the filibuster in December 2021. They should be able to do so again."
Sawyer Hackett, a communications strategist with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, urged Biden to back up his rhetoric and "bring in" the two right-wing Democrats--along with Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, both of whom claim to support pro-choice policies--to directly pressure them to back a filibuster workaround for abortion rights.
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