WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden’s list of impossible tasks is getting longer.
Despite the high-profile promises he made from the election campaign to his first year in office, he has limited powers to self-defend the right to vote or expand the fight against climate change.
And now it has become clear that Biden has no good options for maintaining access to abortion, as the Supreme Court seems ready to overturn Rowe v. Wade.
This is a disorienting and reluctant state of affairs for Democrats, who for the first time in more than a decade have controlled both Congress and the White House.
But the reality is that the party has only the narrowest majority in the Senate, and there are simply not enough votes to guarantee the right to abortion, especially if there is a filibuster.
Biden’s promise to codify Rowe v. Wade in law seems to be meant for the same rocky shoals where other parts of his agenda, such as clean energy tax credits or legislation that warns of restrictions on state voting, have already run aground.
Perhaps the most concise explanation came from Senator Debbie Staben, Michigan, earlier this week.
“We’re stuck,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has scheduled a vote on abortion for next Wednesday, but it will almost certainly fail. Republicans are united in the opposition, and a handful of Democrats may also not support it.
The impasse is forcing the White House to reopen its reserve book – looking for ways to change the situation through executive action or regulatory action, criticizing Republicans for the lack of wider action.
“The White House is under tremendous pressure to be stronger and more vocal,” said Lawrence Gostin, who runs the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health under Georgetown Law.
But Gostin, who is advising administration officials on the next steps, said “Biden needs to stick to winning battles,” focusing on “low-hanging fruit.”
One such idea is to make abortion drugs more accessible by mail. The Food and Drug Administration has already lifted the requirement to take pills in person, and Gostin said the practice requires aggressive protection as it faces conservative attacks.
The Justice Department has already sued for access to abortion, suing Texas last year to end a law banning most abortions.
Another concept, Gostin said, would allow Medicaid to pay for travel if a woman cannot have an abortion in her state. Such a plan could run counter to the Gaida Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion, so it will require careful wording.
For example, a policy may claim that Medicaid will pay for travel for permitted treatment if it is not legal where the patient resides, not to mention abortion.
None of these proposals are indisputable, and they are likely to face Republican challenges in the courts or through legislation.
“It’s like a lie,” Gostin said. “Every time a woman tries to overcome government restrictions, they make them tougher.”
Such administrative steps are similar to what Biden did when other initiatives stopped at Capitol Hill.
For example, during the vote, he signed an order to facilitate registration, and the Ministry of Justice is stepping up efforts to protect access to ballots.
In addition, Biden has included some climate policies in infrastructure legislation passed last year, and regulators are tightening rules on vehicle emissions.
“The president is incredibly proud of what he has done in the 15 months of his presidency,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday.
Asked about Biden’s struggle on Capitol Hill, Psaki pointed to his long experience as a senator.
“He knows and understands that sometimes it takes more time than he would like to advance your agenda,” she said.
However, abortion is causing even more passions than other problems across the political spectrum, and frustration over inaction is simmering.
California Gov. Gavin News, who wants his state to be a haven for people who want to have an abortion, said this week that Democrats are not getting it.
“Where the hell is my party?” he said. Opponents of abortion are winning, News added. “We need to get up. Where is the counteroffensive? ”
Cecilia Munoz, a senior adviser to New America, a left-wing think tank based in Washington, said in an interview earlier this year that “there is speculation that the president has a magic wand that he doesn’t always possess.”
She saw this with her own eyes as director of President Barack Obama’s Home Affairs Council as the White House increasingly relied on executive action to achieve its goals despite Republican resistance.
“I think the advocacy community is used to the idea that there are labels,” she said. “But there are no good shortcuts.”
Mini Timmarayu, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said the expected end of Rowe v. Wade would require activists to use a variety of tactics.
“The American people are used to relying on the courts to protect their fundamental freedoms,” she said. “And now we really need to get people used to turning their attention to legislators, members of Congress, legislatures. And it will be a small culture shock and a small shift in the way we think. ”
It looks like Democrats will lose control of Congress in the November election, especially because of a drop in Biden’s approval rating. However, some hope the Supreme Court’s decision will set their voters on fire.
“What you’re looking for in politics is opportunity,” said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic questionnaire. “There’s a possibility that didn’t exist before it came along.”
Michael Beshlos, a presidential historian, likened Biden’s situation to President Harry Truman, who ran when he ran for re-election in 1948. He turned his campaign into an accusation of a “sloppy Congress” that was controlled by Republicans at the time. , and he managed to get a slight victory.
The goal, Beshlos said, is to “take a bad hand and play it perfectly”.
Biden is trying a similar reception ahead of the midterm election, stepping up his criticism of other Republican proposals.
He has repeatedly pointed to a plan by the National Republican Senate Committee to raise taxes on people at the bottom of the income scale and force federal programs such as Social Security to re-authorize every five years.
“I proposed another plan – a plan based on American values of justice and decency,” Biden said Wednesday.
And he warns that Republicans will not stop at abortion and may focus on other rights obtained through the Supreme Court, such as access to birth control or same-sex marriage.
“This Crowd MAGA is a reference to Donald Trump’s slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ – ‘indeed the most extreme political organization that has existed in recent American history,” Biden said.
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