Progressives eye filibuster, Hyde Amendment after Roe v. Wade reversal

Washington -- Democratic lawmakers on the Left are calling for their party to stand up for women's rights to abortion access, in response to Roe v.

03 July 2022 Sunday 00:19
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Progressives eye filibuster, Hyde Amendment after Roe v. Wade reversal

Washington -- Democratic lawmakers on the Left are calling for their party to stand up for women's rights to abortion access, in response to Roe v. Wade's 1973 landmark ruling.

This week's ruling overturned nearly 50 years worth of precedent and ruled that states can restrict or ban abortions as their legislatures wish. The ability to access abortion will depend heavily on the location of a person's residence, as this power has been delegated by the state governments.

Both supporters and opponents of abortion rights immediately responded to the opinion of the conservative majority of high court justices. In remarks that afternoon, President Biden described the decision as "an extreme ideology realized." However, he also acknowledged that he will not be able revive abortion protections across the country if Congress does not vote for him.

Though the Democratic-controlled House passed a bill in February to guarantee Roe v. Wade's old protections, the bill hasn't passed the Senate, which is split evenly along party lines. To allow consideration of any bill, a supermajority (60) of the senators is required by the Senate's filibuster rules. Many Democratic senators would be willing to repeal the rule and approve abortion protections with a simple majority (51 votes) but opposition from Democratic Senators Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema and Kyrsten Sinema who support keeping the filibuster has cost the party two votes.

"If the voters help us keep our control of both the House and the Senate and increase our majority by at least two votes in November, then we can make Roe law across the country as soon a January," Tina Smith and Elizabeth Warren wrote in an op-ed published in the New York Times last Saturday.

Democratic leaders are in agreement -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it "essential" in Monday's letter to her Democratic colleagues. On Thursday, Mr. Biden stated that he would support a filibuster exception to protect abortion rights.

Progressives also urge the president to take a more proactive stance against the court's decision in advance of the midterm elections which are still 100 days away. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez tweeted that the Democrats' response to the court's decision "can't be just one of voting."

Ocasio Cortez wrote that past presidents (from Lincoln to FDR) understood the dangers of allowing a Court overreach its authority, and threaten our democracy. "The President [and] Dem leaders cannot continue to use the familiar tactics of committees’ and studies' to avoid facing our crises head on.

Senators Warren and Smith signed a letter urging the Biden administration not to use federal lands for abortion services in areas where they are otherwise restricted. This idea was rebuffed by the White House. In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash, Vice President Kamala Harris stated that "it's certainly not what we are currently discussing."

The Hyde Amendment will limit any executive orders that the Biden administration pursues. It prohibits federal funds being used for abortions. It is unclear whether the Hyde Amendment prevents the Biden Administration from opening clinics on federal land or whether an executive order could be used to direct money towards travel for those seeking abortions out of state.

One official from the White House stated that while this proposal was well-intentioned, it could expose women and providers to risk. "And, most importantly, in states that have made abortion illegal, providers and women who aren't federal employees could face criminal prosecution."

Although the elimination of the filibuster may not be possible until at least after the midterms it is possible to repeal the Hyde Amendment with 51 votes. This is because the amendment is included in the annual budget. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez referred to the amendment as "The Late Show" Wednesday night, stating that Democrats must repeal it in order for the party's credibility among their voters.

She stated that she believed President Biden should ask Congress to repeal the Hyde Amendment. "We must show the American people that we will defend all civil, economic and human rights if they vote for Democrats to power."

Since Senator Manchin was supportive of the restriction last fall, it seems unlikely that Democrats will adopt this course right now. Although Mr. Biden supported Hyde Amendment until 2020, his latest budget proposal attempted to remove the provision before Congress added them back in.

Warren and Smith also suggest that executive actions will be less likely to violate the Hyde Amendment. The senators ask the administration to ensure that abortion drugs like mifepristone are protected. Biden's Health secretary Xavier Becerra responded to Tuesday's remarks by saying that his agency would collaborate with the attorney general in order to fight state prohibitions of the pharmaceutical option. He called abortion drugs "critical" in his remarks.

After spending the week abroad attending the G7 Summit, President Biden will meet Friday with Democratic governors to discuss the state's plans for managing the Roe v. Wade-era abortion policy. Officials in Democratic-controlled states expect a surge in demand as women from Republican-controlled states travel in search of an abortion, straining funds and clinical capacity.

Governors Gavin Newsom from California, Jared Polis in Colorado, Ned Lamont, J.B. Pritzker, J.B. Pritzker, Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico, Kathy Hochul, Roy Cooper, Kate Brown, Oregon, Dan McKee, Rhode Island, Jay Inslee, Washington, are all expected to attend.

Gabrielle Ake, Corey Rangel and Corey Rangel contributed their expertise to this report.



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