White House urges passage of abortion rights bill ahead of expected failed vote
The White House on Wednesday called on Congress to pass legislation codifying abortion rights with “the utmost urgency,” hours before a vote on the bill is poised to fail on the Senate floor.
“The urgency to protect women’s health, their fundamental right to control their reproductive choices, and the freedom of all people to build their own future has never been greater,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement Wednesday morning.
“It is evident that the constitutional rights protected for nearly 50 years are now in severe jeopardy,” the statement read. “It is imperative for Congress to act to adopt statutory protections for women’s access to essential health care services and reproductive choice, regardless of where they live.”
However, Democratic senators do not have the votes needed to overcome the 60-vote threshold and advance the bill, known as the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would require all Democrats and at least 10 Republicans to vote in favor of the legislation.
Still, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has insisted on such a vote after a leaked draft opinion suggested the Supreme Court’s conservative majority is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established a constitutional right to an abortion.
A similar vote failed earlier this year, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voting against advancing the legislation. The bill cleared the Democratic-controlled House last fall.
The White House statement seemed to acknowledge the hurdles to getting it passed.
“Congress should advance this important bill with the utmost urgency this moment demands,” it said. “The President looks forward to working with Congress throughout the legislative process and signing the Women’s Health Protection Act into law.”
The White House has previously backed the Women’s Health Protection Act, but Wednesday’s statement includes new references to the expected ruling from the Supreme Court regarding Roe v. Wade.
Biden, who is traveling to Illinois on Wednesday for a speech on inflation, has criticized the draft ruling as an attack on women’s rights and argued that it could lay the groundwork for the erosion of other rights.
The White House Gender Policy Council and counsel’s office are reviewing options to respond to the forthcoming ruling, but officials have been tightlipped about what the plan will include.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the response would be made public only after the final Supreme Court ruling is issued, which is expected some time over the next two months.
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