President Joe Biden on Tuesday made a major promise on a push to put abortion rights into law as his party looks to seize on the politically divisive issue in the final push ahead of the midterm elections.
At an abortion-rights-focused speech at a Democratic National Committee event on Tuesday, Biden said that if Democrats elect more senators and keep control of the House in the midterms then he’d make abortion a top issue.
“The court got Roe right nearly 50 years ago and I believe the Congress should codify Roe, once and for all,” Biden said.
He then implored voters to elect more Democrats in order to make sure that bill could pass.
“If we do that, here’s the promise I make to you and the American people: The first bill I will send to the Congress will be to codify Roe v. Wade. And when Congress passes it, I’ll sign it in January, 50 years after Roe was first decided the law of the land,” Biden added.
Dating back to the 2020 campaign, Biden has called for codifying Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a federal constitutional right to abortion. The Supreme Court overturned it earlier this year, transforming access to reproductive health care in the country. It is unclear how politically effective such a promise of prioritizing such a bill will be, given that Democrats have an intensely tough battle in November to keep both the Senate and House.
Biden has not been able to fulfill that campaign promise in part because he needs more than just a simple majority in the Senate to overcome the chamber’s filibuster rules. While Biden has voiced support for ending the 60-vote threshold to codify abortion rights, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona remain opposed to such a carveout. Biden has previously said he would need at least two more Democrats elected to the Senate to change the filibuster rules and pass abortion rights legislation.
Biden’s promise to prioritize abortion in the new legislative term is an indication he is exhausting executive steps to protect those rights, even as some activists call for more action.