WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden promised Tuesday that the first bill he sends to Capitol Hill next year will be one that codifies Roe v. Wade — if Democrats control enough seats in Congress for Biden to sign abortion protections into law — in a speech designed to energize his party’s voters just three weeks ahead of the November midterms.
“If you care about the right to choose, then you gotta vote,” Biden said during remarks at the Howard Theatre in Washington. He urged those in attendance to recall how they felt when the Supreme Court in late June overturned the landmark 1973 ruling legalizing abortion, and repeatedly lambasted Republicans nationwide who have pushed for restrictions on the procedure, often without exceptions.
Biden said “the only sure way to stop these extremist laws that are putting in jeopardy women’s health and rights is for Congress to pass a law.” He acknowledged that right now, “we’re short a handful of votes” to reinstate abortion protections at the federal level, urging voters to send more Democrats to Congress.
“If we do that, here’s the promise I make to you and the American people: The first bill that I will send to the Congress will be to codify Roe v. Wade,” Biden said. “And when Congress passes it, I’ll sign it in January, 50 years after Roe was first decided the law of the land.”
That’s a big if.
Republicans are widely projected to gain control of at least the House. Abortion rights have been a key motivating factor for Democrats this year, although the economy and inflation still rank as chief concern for most voters.
For the White House, it won’t be enough just to keep control of both chambers of Congress, already an uphill battle, to be able to enshrine the protections of Roe into law. The Senate would need to abolish the filibuster, the legislative rule that requires 60 votes for most bills to advance in the chamber, in order to pass an abortion measure with a simple majority of senators.
Long resistant to any revisions to Senate institutional rules, Biden said in the days after the decision by the Supreme Court to overrule Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson that he would support eliminating that supermajority threshold for abortion bills, just as he did on voting rights legislation.
But two moderate Democrats — Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, Ariz., and Joe Manchin, W.Va. — support keeping the filibuster. Sinema has said she wants to retain the filibuster precisely so any abortion restrictions backed by Republicans would face a much higher hurdle to pass in the Senate.
Democratic Senate candidates in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the party’s two best chances to flip seats currently held by Republicans — have both said they support eliminating the filibuster in order to pass abortion legislation. Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman has actively campaigned on being the 51st vote for priorities such as legalizing abortion, codifying same-sex marriage protections, and making it easier for workers to unionize — all measures that would otherwise be blocked by a filibuster in the Senate.
Abortion — and proposals from some Republicans to impose nationwide restrictions on the procedure — have been a regular fixture of Biden’s political rhetoric this election cycle, as Democrats seek to energize voters in a difficult midterm season for the party in power in Washington.
In fundraisers and in political speeches, Biden has vowed to reject any abortion restrictions that may come to his desk in a GOP-controlled Congress. He has also urged voters to boost the Democratic ranks in the Senate so enough senators would not only support reinstating abortion nationwide, but would be willing to change Senate rules to do it.
“If you give me two more Democratic senators in the United States Senate, I promise you, I promise you we’re going to codify Roe,” Biden said at a Democratic National Committee rally in Washington last month. “We’ll once again make Roe the law of the land. And we’ll once again protect a woman’s right to choose.”
On Tuesday, Biden made a pointed appeal to young voters, who traditionally participate in lower rates than other age demographics in midterm elections. Though his remarks were primarily focused on abortion, Biden also mentioned his decisions to forgive billions of dollars in student loan debt and to issue pardons for marijuana possession — moves popular with younger voters.
“What I am saying is, you represent the best of us. Your generation will not be ignored, will not be shunned and will not be silent,” Biden said, adding: “In 2020, you voted to deliver the change you wanted to see in the world. In 2022, you need to exercise your power to vote again for the future of our nation and the future of your generation.”
Court decisions and state legislation have shifted — and sometimes, re-shifted — the status of abortion laws across the country. Currently, bans are in place at all states of pregnancy in 12 states. In another, Wisconsin, clinics have stopped providing abortions though there’s dispute over whether a ban is in effect. In Georgia, abortion is banned at the detection of cardiac activity — generally around six weeks and before women often know they’re pregnant.
Meanwhile, codifying Roe remains a broadly popular position. In a July AP-NORC poll, 60% of U.S. adults said they believe Congress should pass a law guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide.
Even with the economy dominating so much of the midterm discourse, abortion has been a touchstone in high-profile contests from Ohio to Arizona, especially as Democrats try to trap Republicans between their most ardent anti-abortion base voters who want absolute or near-total bans and a majority of U.S. adults that wants at least some legal access to elective abortions.
For instance, in Georgia, Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker went so far in his only debate against Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, as to deny his previous support for a national abortion ban with no exceptions. Despite Walker’s previous statements captured on video, he insisted Warnock misrepresented his position. Walker said in the debate that he backs a Georgia statute outlawing abortion after six weeks of pregnancy – an effective ban for some women because it’s so early they don’t yet know they’re pregnant. The law includes exceptions for later abortions in cases of rape, incest and involving health risks to a woman.
Warnock, meanwhile, avoided direct questions about whether he’d support any abortion limits, instead turning the question to Walker’s position.
Trump impeachment leader Schiff joins California Senate race
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who rose to national prominence as the lead prosecutor in President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, said Thursday he is running for the Senate seat held by long-serving Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
The 2024 race is quickly emerging as a marquee Senate contest, even though the 89-year-old Feinstein, the oldest member of Congress, has yet to announce if she will seek another term, though her retirement is widely expected. Schiff is jumping in two weeks after Rep. Katie Porter became the first candidate to declare her campaign for the safe Democratic seat.
Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, made clear he intends to anchor his candidacy to his role as Trump’s chief antagonist in Congress. In his campaign kickoff video, he said the “biggest job of his life” was serving as impeachment manager, and he promised to continue to be a “fighter” for democracy.
“If our democracy isn’t delivering for Americans, they’ll look for alternatives, like a dangerous demagogue who promises that he alone can fix it,” Schiff said of Trump, who has announced his 2024 campaign for the presidency.
Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor who joined the Senate in 1992, told reporters in Washington this week that she will make a decision about 2024 in the “next couple of months.”
The jockeying for the seat has created a politically awkward dynamic for Feinstein, who has broken gender barriers throughout her decadeslong career in local and national politics. In recent years, questions have arisen about her cognitive health and memory, though she has defended her effectiveness in representing a state that is home to nearly 40 million people.
Schiff, 62, said in an interview Thursday that he had spoken to Feinstein a day earlier to inform her about his plans.
“I want to make sure that everything I did was respectful of her and that I did so with her knowledge and her blessing,” Schiff told The Associated Press.
Asked if he was aware of the senator’s plans, Schiff said, “I don’t want to presume to speak for Sen. Feinstein, and I think she’s earned the right to announce her decision when she’s ready to make that announcement.”
Schiff was first elected to Congress in 2000 and represents parts of Hollywood. He has been a frequent target of conservatives — Trump in particular — since the then-GOP-led House Intelligence Committee he served on started investigating Trump’s ties to Russia in the 2016 election. Schiff appeared frequently on television to question Trump’s actions.
That criticism intensified when Democrats took the House majority in early 2019 and he became the committee chair, and it reached a full-on roar with his role in the impeachment investigation of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Trump was impeached in December 2019 on charges he abused the power of the presidency to investigate rival Joe Biden and obstructed Congress’ investigation.
In an impassioned plea to the Senate in early 2020, Schiff urged Trump’s removal from office and framed the choice in moral terms. “If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost,” he said at the time.
“You know you can’t trust this president do what’s right for this country,” Schiff said. “You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months, he’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to. This is why if you find him guilty you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters.”
The Republican-led Senate acquitted Trump of both charges. In 2021, he became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, this time for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol after he lost the 2020 election. He was again acquitted by the Senate.
Republicans are still angry about Schiff’s starring role at the impeachment trial, with new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy accusing him of using his leadership position to “lie to the American public again and again.” McCarthy, R-Calif., said this week that he intended to block Schiff from continuing his service on the House Intelligence Committee.
With the centrist Feinstein in the twilight of her career, the race in the heavily Democratic state already is shaping up as a showcase for an ambitious, younger generation on the party’s left wing.
Both Schiff and Porter are nationally recognized — Schiff through his leading impeachment role and Porter, a favorite of the party’s progressive wing, through her tough questioning of CEOs and other witnesses at congressional hearings. Each is also a formidable small-dollar fundraiser.
Neither has run statewide before, and each would face the challenge of becoming better known beyond their Southern California districts. Democrats are expected to dominate the contest — a Republican hasn’t won a statewide race in California since 2006, and the past two Senate elections had only Democrats on the November ballot.
The field is expected to grow, with other possible contenders including Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Asked how he would stand out in what is expected to be a crowded field, Schiff said he would emphasize his central role of national struggles over democracy and the economy.
“I think that record of leadership, that record of staunch defense of our democracy, and the way that I’ve championed an economy that works for everyone, I think are a powerful record to run on,” he said.
In his announcement video, Schiff mixed shots of his family and highlights from his courtroom work with video from the impeachment proceedings and clips of Trump and other Republicans.
He warns that the threat of extremism is not over.
“Today’s Republican Party is gutting the middle class, threatening our democracy” Schiff says. “They aren’t going to stop. We have to stop them.”
Florida House Democrats React to House Bill 1 Passing its First Committee
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In response to the committee vote referring House Bill 1 to its next House committee, Florida House Democrats provided the following statements.
“While I am disappointed my third amendment was not accepted to give Florida’s families the accountability and transparency they deserve so they make the right choice for their children, we will continue working with our Republican counterparts to ensure no student gets left behind,” said Choice and Innovation Subcommittee Democratic Ranking Member Representative Susan L. Valdés (D-Tampa).
“Today’s committee hearing hosted a robust discussion about policy and finance, but we need to realize that is ultimately about the children,” said Representative Kevin Chambliss (D-Homestead). “Each child is different and unique, especially those with disabilities. Every child deserves quality education, and I sincerely hope we can work together to put our children before the politics of the bill.”
“Today’s vote is disappointing. While there is definitely room for innovation in the public-school system, the negative fiscal impact on public schools will be felt on the back of public school students,” said Representative Katherine Waldron (D-Wellington).
This morning’s Choice and Innovation Subcommittee hearing can be replayed any time via The Florida Channel’s archive.
Randy Fine Announces Endorsement of Brevard State Rep. Chase Tramont
Melbourne Beach, Fla. – Today, State Representative Randy Fine (R-Melbourne Beach)
announced the endorsement of Brevard County State Representative Chase Tramont in Fine’s
bid for the open State Senate District 19 seat.
“For many years, I have had the privilege of knowing Representative Fine and observing his
service in the Florida House,” said Tramont. “I can personally vouch for his tenacious spirit.
When it comes to fighting for our families, he’s left it all on the field. I have no doubt he will
do the same in the Florida Senate.”
Representative Tramont joins fellow Brevard County Representative and former Senator Thad
Altman in endorsing Fine, along with former Senate President from Brevard Mike Haridopolos
and Republican Party of Florida Chairman and Senator Joe Gruters. Fine’s political committee,
Friends of Randy Fine, has almost $500,000 on hand.
“Representative Tramont has been a fantastic addition to the Brevard Delegation,” said Fine.
“Many legislators talk about fighting for the most vulnerable among us; Representative Tramont
is an inspiration in living that fight every day. I am so excited to work with him this term in the
House, and moving forward, in the Senate.”
Representative Fine currently serves as the Chairman of the House Health & Human Services
Committee, where he oversees all aspects of health care and welfare reform in Florida.
Previously, he served as Chairman of the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, where
he sponsored the largest School Choice expansion in American history and as Chairman of the
House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, where he redesigned the process of
capital funding for state universities. He also served as the Chairman of the House Select
Committee on Gaming. In his time in the legislature, Fine has passed over two dozen pieces of
legislation, including the bill holding Disney accountable for its wokeists attacks on Florida’s
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