Biden calls court’s Roe ruling ‘tragic reversal’ during meeting with Democratic governors – as it happened

2 months ago

Biden calls court’s Roe ruling ‘tragic reversal’ during meeting with Democratic governors – as it happened

The Guardian

Evening summary

This afternoon Joe Biden met with a group of Democratic governors to highlight their efforts to protect abortion. During the meeting, Biden called the supreme court’s ruling a “tragic reversal” and again vowed that the federal government was exploring more actions it could take to help women access reproductive care.

  • Speaking from the White House, Biden said the administration had already taken steps to protect women. He said the Justice Department would defend anyone who travels to another state to have abortion and said the Department of Health and Human Services was working to make abortion medications more available. “This is not over,” he promised.
  • Biden acknowledged that Democrats do not have enough votes in the Senate to change the filibuster rules to pass a bill protecting abortion and other privacy rates. He urged Americans to vote for pro-choice candidates, noting that two more Democratic senators would likely be enough to carve out an exception in the filibuster to pass abortion rights.
  • The governors of New York and New Mexico urged Biden to consider using federal lands in states where abortion is banned or severely restricted to provide reproductive care. The White House has so far dismissed the suggestion as “well intentioned” but impractically and potentially risky.
  • Biden also warned that if Republicans win control of Congress they will seek to ban abortion nationwide.
  • Biden also announced that he will award the presidential medal of freedom to 17 people, including actor Denzel Washington, gymnast Simone Biles and the late Arizona senator, John McCain.

That’s all from us this week. But for more, we invite you to listen to the latest episode of Politics Weekly America. This week, columnists Jonathan Freedland and Jill Filipovic discuss “whether it’s still possible for a deeply divided court of nine judges, a group that now has a 6-3 conservative majority, to keep the promise to the American people of ‘equal protection’, and what happens if it can’t.”

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Biden concluded the public portion of the meeting, but asked the governors to stick around so they could discuss ways in which the federal government might act to protect abortion access.

During a press conference yesterday, Biden suggested that he might unveil a series of new actions but there was no such announcement.

Speaking first, New York governor Kathy Hochul, said her state is acting quickly to shore up women’s reproductive rights in its constitution and protect access to contraception and other rights.

“This is frightening time for women all across our nation, a lot of fear and anxiety out there,” she said.

Hochul also pushed Biden to use federal lands for abortion services – a suggestion that the White House has so far dismissed as “well-intentioned” but potentially risky.

Next we’re hearing from North Carolina governor, Roy Cooper, a Democratic in a Republican-leaning state.

“This democratic governor is going to hold the line to protect women’s reproductive freedom in our state,” he said. But he said he needs more Democrats in the state legislature to help sustain his vetos of Republican bills that seek to ban or severely restrict abortions.

Already he said North Carolina is seeing an influx of patients from other states with bans and tighter restrictions.

“We are in fact that brick wall against this horrific supreme court decision,” said Michelle Lujan Grisham, the governor of New Mexico said. She outlined the ways New Mexico was preparing to be a haven for women coming from neighboring states that have already outlawed abortions.

She also pressed Biden to do more at the federal level to protect abortion access, such as setting up abortion clinics on tribal lands, should a tribe want to open private clinics for non-Native Americans to receive care.

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Biden calls Roe ruling a 'tragic reversal'

Opening the meeting with Democratic governors, Biden called the court’s ruling on abortion a “tragic reversal”.

“I share the public outrage of this extremist court that is committed to moving America backwards,” Biden said. He vowed to fight to protect women’s rights: “This is not over.”

He pointed to two steps the administration has taken to increase the availability of medication abortion and protect women who travel out-of-state for an abortion. He also warned that if Republicans won control of Congress they would try to pass a nationwide ban on abortion.

Per the White House, the Democratic governors participating in Friday’s meeting are:

Ned Lamont, Governor of Connecticut

Kathy Hochul, Governor of New York

Michelle Lujan Grisham, Governor of New Mexico

JB Pritzker, Governor of Illinois

Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington

Kate Brown, Governor or Oregon

Roy Cooper, Governor of North Carolina

Jared Polis, Governor of Colorado

Dan McKee, Governor of Rhode Island

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As we await Biden’s appearance with Democratic governors, the White House announced that the president will travel to Cleveland, Ohio next week.

There he will speak about his “economic agenda and building the economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” the White House said in a statement.

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In what has become something of a pattern for Republicans, an Utah lawmaker has apologized for a bizarre comment that suggested women could do more to prevent pregnancies resulting from rape. (See: Todd Akin.)

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah state representative, Karianne Lisonbee, said during a press conference that she had received messages urging lawmakers should also hold men accountable for unwanted pregnancies in the wake of the supreme court’s ruling on Roe.

“I got a text message today saying I should seek to control men’s ejaculations and not women’s pregnancies,” Lisonbee reportedly said. She added: “I do trust women enough to control when they allow a man to ejaculate inside of them and to control that intake of semen.”

In a statement to the paper, she clarified her remarks and pointed to her efforts to expand protections for victims of sexual assault.

“Women do not have a choice when they are raped and have protections under Utah’s trigger law,” she told the Tribune. “The political and social divide in America seems to be expanding at an ever-faster pace. I am committed to ongoing respectful and civil engagement. I can always do better and will continue to try.”

Here are the other names of individuals who will receive the presidential medal of freedom next week.

Julieta García, the former president of The University of Texas at Brownsville and the first Hispanic woman to serve as a college president

Father Alexander Karloutsos, the former Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Sandra Lindsay, a New York critical care nurse who was the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trial.

Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming who advocated for campaign finance reform, responsible governance, and marriage equality.

Wilma Vaught, one of the most decorated women in the history of the US military.

Raúl Yzaguirre, a civil rights advocate who served as CEO and president of National Council of La Raza

Gymnast Simon Biles, actor Denzel Washington, the late Apple founder, Steve Jobs, soccer player Megan Rapinoe, the late Arizona senator John McCain, and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords are among the 17 people who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom this month.

It is the nation’s highest civil honor, presented by the president to individuals who have “demonstrate[d] the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith,” the White House said in a press release.

Biden will present the awards during a ceremony at the White House on 7 July.

Recipients also include barrier-breaking activists and lawmakers such as Sister Simone Campbell, a Catholic social justice advocate, Fred Gray, one of the first black members of the Alabama State legislature, Diane Nash, a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Richard Trumka, the late leader of the AFL-CIO, and Khizr Khan, a Gold Star father who rose to prominence when he challenged Trump’s commitment to the Constitution.

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Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney is in the fight of her political life as she tries to keep her seat while leading the charge against her party’s most popular figure, Donald Trump.

Last night she participated in a debate against her opponent, the one-time Trump critic turned loyalist Harriet Hageman. Here’s Martin Pengelly’s write up of the event.

Down in the polls and facing losing her seat in Congress over her opposition to Donald Trump and membership of the House January 6 committee, Liz Cheney came out swinging in a Republican debate in Wyoming.

“The truth matters,” she said in Sheridan on Thursday night, targeting Harriet Hageman, the candidate endorsed by Trump, and challenging her to say the 2020 election was not stolen.

Hageman did not do so.

Cheney, Hageman and three other candidates will contest the primary on 16 August. Hageman leads by about 30 points in polls.

Cheney, a strict conservative and the daughter of the former congressman, defense secretary and vice-president Dick Cheney, has been seeking to convince Democrats to switch registration and back her.

On the debate stage, Cheney said: “I’m frankly stunned that one of my opponents on the stage who is a member of the Wyoming bar, who has sworn an oath as many of us on this stage have to the constitution, would be in a position where she is suggesting that somehow what happened on January 6 was justified or that somehow … the people have the right to ignore the rulings of the courts.”

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Congress has a very short window to act before the August recess. And in a campaign year, these few weeks are perhaps lawmakers last best chance to pass meaningful legislation before the November elections.

One of the biggest ticket items on their very long to-do list is a bill aimed at boosting research and domestic manufacturing to be more competitive with China. The legislation has gone through many iterations – and names – in the months since a bipartisan group of lawmakers first introduced the proposal but it recently it appeared to be on track. Then on Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, threw an unexpected wrench in the plan.

McConnell warned that if Democrats pursue a reconciliation bill, which is shaping up to be a dramatically scaled back version of Biden’s climate and social policy agenda, Republicans would block the China competitiveness bill.

It is only the latest example of how the Republican leader wields his power - even from the minority.

How this plays out is anyone’s guess. There is a lot of bipartisan and industry support for the competitiveness bill, blandly referred to as the United States Innovation and Competition Act or USICA for short.

Lining up 50 votes to pass the Democrats’ reconciliation package was always going to be a heavy lift for Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer. You’ll remember Biden’s sweeping agenda collapsed last year amid opposition from Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. But talks have begun anew with the aim of crafting a potentially $1tn compromise package. Pressuring is building on Democrats to use their majorities to pass a climate bill in light of the supreme court’s decision on Thursday limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions.

But many of the sticking points remain, particularly around reforms to the tax code.

Manchin wants to repeal the 2017 Trump tax cuts, but a group of House Democrats, whose votes are almost certainly needed to pass the bill in the lower chamber, won’t back and plan to change the tax code without also repealing a cap on the amount of state and local taxes that homeowners can deduct.

There are a lot of details to be ironed out and very few calendar days left to do it.

At the end of this week’s explosive hearing by the House committee investigating the January 6 attack, vice chair Liz Cheney made a startling announcement: members had evidence that allies of Donald Trump had attempted to “influence” witness testimony.

The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell has confirmed at least one of the witnesses was former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified this week that Trump knowingly directed armed supporters to march to the Capitol – and tried to join them.

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson received at least one message tacitly warning her not to cooperate with the House January 6 select committee from an associate of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Ex-White House aide delivers explosive public testimony to January 6 panelRead more

The message in question was the second of the two warnings that the select committee disclosed at the end of its special hearing when Hutchinson testified about how Donald Trump directed a crowd he knew was armed to march on the Capitol, the sources said.

“[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition,” read the message. The redaction was Meadows, the sources said.

The message was presented during closing remarks at the special hearing with Hutchinson by the panel’s vice-chair, Liz Cheney, who characterized the missive as improper pressure on a crucial witness that could extend to illegal witness tampering or intimidation.

The exact identity of the person who sent Hutchinson the message – beyond the fact that they were an associate of Meadows – could not be confirmed on Thursday, but that may be in part because the select committee may wish to interview that person, the sources said.

That appears to indicate that the person who sent the message was a close associate of the former White House chief of staff who may themselves be a fact witness to what Trump and Meadows were doing and thinking ahead of the Capitol attack.

Neither a spokesman for Meadows nor Hutchinson responded to a request for comment on Thursday evening.

Good morning and welcome to our coverage of all things politics. It’s Friday in Washington DC, which means most lawmakers have fled the capital for the holiday weekend, leaving behind an ever-growing list of urgent and unfinished business.

Joe Biden will meet today with six Democratic governors to discuss protecting abortion access in the wake of the supreme court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade. At a press conference in Madrid on Thursday, Biden said he would announce additional actions the White House would take to secure reproductive care.

He has been under pressure from a number of Democratic lawmakers and progressives alarmed by what they view as the administration’s belated and overly cautious response to this moment of crisis. So far, the White House has pushed back against calls to use federal lands for abortion services, and other proposals it worries could have unintended legal risks for patients and providers.

Some states that halted abortions in the immediate, chaotic aftermath of the high court’s ruling have resumed offering the procedure while lower courts consider challenges to the new restrictions.

Read more here.