President Biden bristled at a reporter Monday before admitting that Democrats had not done enough in last week’s midterm elections to codify abortion rights nationwide — then telling the journalist he shouldn’t have responded to the inquiry.
The president, speaking at a news conference in Bali, Indonesia, after his face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, told the assembled reporters that he would take questions from four of them.
After Biden fielded the four inquiries, NBC News’ Peter Alexander shouted out: “Mr. President, what should Americans expect from Congress as it relates to abortion rights after the midterms?”
“I don’t think they can expect much of anything other than we’re going to maintain our positions,” Biden said.
He then paused before adding in an annoyed tone: “I’m not going to get into more questions. I shouldn’t even have answered your question.”
In the closing weeks of the midterm campaign, Biden vowed that if Democrats retained both the House and Senate, the first piece of legislation he’d send to Congress would ensure abortion rights after the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
“Your right to choose rests with you. If you do your part and vote, Democratic leaders of Congress, I promise you, we’ll do our part. I’ll do my part. And with your support, I’ll sign a law codifying Roe in January,” he said last month.
“I don’t think there’s enough votes to codify, unless something unusual happens in the House,” Biden said Monday. “I think we’re going to get very close in the House. But I don’t — I think it’s going to be very close, but I don’t think we’re going to make it.”
While the Democrats have retained control of the Senate with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s win over Adam Laxalt in Nevada on Saturday, Republicans are still on course to eke out a narrow majority in the House.
With Cortez Masto’s victory, Democrats have a 50-49 edge over Republicans in the Senate. They may be able to extend their majority to 51 if Sen. Raphael Warnock defeats his Republican challenger Herschel Walker in their runoff election Dec. 6.
Democrats have raised the possibility of negating the Senate’s 60-vote legislative filibuster in order to pass abortion rights legislation, but that is unlikely to happen with 51 Democrats since two of them — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have repeatedly opposed such a drastic change to Senate rules.
Biden said in June that Democrats “need two more senators” to help advance his agenda — an apparent reference to Manchin and Sinema.