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NotedDC — Biden shifts abortion fight to Senate

Hill Illustration, Madeline Monroe / Peter Afriyie

President Biden threw his support behind a carveout of the Senate filibuster to codify abortion rights, a moment some Democrats have been waiting for since May.

“And if the filibuster gets in the way — it’s like voting rights — it should be we provide an exception for this, requiring an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision,” Biden said Thursday at the NATO summit in Spain.

It was a moment “a lot of people have been craving,” Democratic strategist Doug Gordon told NotedDC, describing it as “a sort of bold leadership.”

Senate Democrats attempted to codify federal abortion rights in May following the publication of the court’s leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, but they couldn’t reach the 60 votes needed to pass.

Abolishing the filibuster would require 50 senators to agree to it, setting up Vice President Harris to cast a tie-breaking vote. But those votes haven’t materialized.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) refused to abolish the filibuster to advance the voting rights bills in January, and the pair have signaled they wouldn’t abolish it for abortion rights, either.

GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) are Democrats’ best chances of potential pickups across the aisle, given both are pro-abortion rights, though Murkowski said in a January speech she would not support any carveouts.

While Biden’s opinion hasn’t carried much weight in the past, his outward support of abortion — which he has a complicated history with — is a sign to Democrats that he’s willing to act.

“You can’t bring a knife to a gunfight and it seems that’s been the White House’s approach,” Gordon said. “[Biden] is finally coming around to the realization many people have already come around to — that the institutions are failing.” 

If Biden’s comments don’t move the needle, Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist and partner at ROKK Solutions, said it reinforces the idea that Democrats can’t get anything done. 

“It shows that he’s trying to do something on the issue [abortion] but again, if it’s all talk and no action, then it’s just another failed attempt by Biden to get something done,” Bonjean said.

Welcome to NotedDC: Your guide to politics, policy and people of consequence in D.C. Send tips to Kelsey Carolan and encourage others to sign up: thehill.com/noted.

How abolishing the filibuster could backfire 

For Democrats opposed to nixing the Senate filibuster, a primary concern remains: How would Republicans use it themselves in the future?

  • Remember: Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) justified abolishing the filibuster for confirming Supreme Court nominees in 2017 after then-Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) abolished it for judicial nominees in 2013 — allowing Republicans to get three justices on the court.
  • “It’s a really dangerous and slippery slope,” Bonjean told NotedDC. “It sounds great to do but in reality, it’s going to be bad and end up working against the party.” (Sinema and Manchin have echoed that argument.)

A GOP Senate aide said abolishing the filibuster would have “implications when either side has a majority” but played down the possibility of enough senators getting on board with scrapping it.

The aide noted that the vote to codify abortion rights didn’t even reach 50 votes in May, when Manchin joined Republicans in voting against the bill.

But Gordon thinks Democrats should go for it anyways, saying they are “kidding themselves” if they think Republicans are going to follow the rules if they gain control of Congress in November.

“There’s no question they are going to get rid of the filibuster,” Gordon said. “Republicans know how to use their power and it’s time for Democrats to use their power.” 

MORE TROUBLE FOR SENATE DEMOCRATS

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the third in line to the presidency, underwent emergency surgery Thursday after he fell and broke his hip at his home in northern Virginia. 

This could affect the confirmation of some Biden nominees, The Hill’s Alex Bolton notes. If Leahy takes some days off, Democrats are down to just 49 votes.

Is Biden’s unpopularity Hillary’s opportunity?

Whispers of Hillary Clinton making a third bid for president are becoming louder. 

The Hill’s Amie Parnes writes that the former secretary of State is having her biggest “I-told-you-so” moment to date after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on top of the ongoing Jan. 6 committee hearings.

What insiders told Parnes: “This moment couldn’t be better for her,” said one former aide. “Everything she warned us about has happened, just as she said.” 

“If he [Biden] chose not to run, I imagine attention would focus on a number of potential candidates including Vice President Harris, of course, but also Secretary Clinton, among others,” a longtime adviser said.

Worth noting: Parnes wrote that there were no discussions of a potential presidential run when Clinton’s former aides recently gathered at a northern Virginia bar to celebrate the anniversary of her 2016 nomination.

Supreme Court’s season finale

The Supreme Court dealt another blow to the Biden administration’s agenda on Thursday by limiting the federal government’s powers to act on climate change.

However, the court also delivered a win for President Biden over scrapping a key Trump-era policy dealing with migrants at the southern border. Here’s what changed:

EPA powers curtailed

  • In a loss for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it can no longer regulate power plants on a system-wide basis to transition from coal to renewable energies.
  • The Hill’s Rachel Frazin reports: “The decision could have implications for other administrative agencies, with the newly emboldened conservative wing indicating it would be skeptical of any broad interpretations of regulatory authority delegated by Congress.” 

‘Remain in Mexico’ scrapped

  • In a victory for the Biden administration, federal officials can officially end the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy that required asylum-seekers at the southern border to wait in Mexico while their applications were processed.
  • From our colleague John Kruzel: “Immigration advocates had long pleaded with both Trump and Biden to scrap the policy, noting that vulnerable migrants, who are not from Mexico and may not even be Spanish speakers, faced dangerous conditions as they waited months on end for any movement in their cases.”

BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court when she was sworn in Thursday. More from The Hill’s John Kruzel

Holiday activities around the District

There’s no better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than the nation’s capital, which isn’t lacking in festivities. Here’s where you can get your red, white and blue on:

🚒 Firetrucks, military units and marching bands will make their way down Constitution Avenue for the National Independence Day Parade beginning at 11:45 a.m. on Monday.

🥁 If you want to stay around the Hill, there will be a neighborhood parade beginning at 10 a.m., led by the Marine Corps’ Drum and Bugle Corps.

🎤 Bring your lawn chairs to the Capitol’s West Lawn on Monday to watch the star-studded annual concert A Capitol Fourth live at 8 p.m. Country star Mickey Guyton will host alongside performers like Yolanda Adams and Gloria Gaynor. 

🎆 Head to the National Mall to watch fireworks launched from the Lincoln Memorial beginning around 9 p.m. 

Stay with TheHill.com for the latest and recommend NotedDC to others: thehill.com/noted. See you next week!

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Tags 2024 presidential election abortion rights Biden EPA Filibuster Hillary Clinton Joe Manchin July 4th weekend Patrick Leahy Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Susan Collins Washington D.C.

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