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Biden says he supports change in Senate filibuster rules for abortion rights

President Biden speaks during a news conference on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid, Thursday, June 30, 2022.
Susan Walsh
/
AP
President Biden speaks during a news conference on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid, Thursday, June 30, 2022.

Updated June 30, 2022 at 11:46 AM ET

President Biden said he would support changing the filibuster rules in the Senate to ensure that privacy rights, including abortion rights, are enshrined into law in the wake of the historic Supreme Court decision reversing Roe v. Wade.

"I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade into law and the way to do that is to make sure Congress votes to do that," Biden said at a press conference as he wrapped up his overseas trip following G-7 and NATO summits Thursday.

"And if the filibuster gets in the way, it's like voting rights, it should be — we provide an exception for this, should require an exception to the filibuster for this action, to deal with the Supreme Court decision," he said.

Biden called out the court for what he said was "outrageous behavior" and said he would meet with a group of governors at the White House on Friday on the issue and would make further announcements following the meeting.

Under Senate rules, most legislation has to clear a 60-vote threshold. That means that Democrats, who currently control the Senate, do not have enough support on their own to pass legislation. They would need 50 votes to change the filibuster rules, but some Democrats have been reluctant to do so.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell criticized Biden for "attacking a core American institution like the Supreme Court from the world stage."

"He's upset that the court said the people, through their elected representatives, will have a say on abortion policy. That does not destabilize democracy – it affirms it," McConnell said in a statement. "By contrast, it is behavior like the President's that undermines equal justice and the rule of law."

In his remarks, Biden doubled down on the administration's messaging that people who are outraged by the Supreme Court decision should mobilize for the November midterm elections.

"Show up and vote, show up in the off-year and vote, vote, vote," he said.

Asked whether he is the "best messenger" to carry the abortion rights message forward, Biden chuckled and said, "Yeah, I am. I'm the president of the United States of America. That makes me the best messenger."

President Biden is shown to his chair by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO summit in Madrid on Thursday.
Jonathan Ernst / POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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POOL/AFP via Getty Images
President Biden is shown to his chair by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO summit in Madrid on Thursday.

Biden said the NATO summit was historic

Biden said his meetings in Europe showed allies are more united than ever on facing both the threats Russia poses to Europe and the competitive challenge from China.

"Before the war started, I told Putin that if he invaded Ukraine, NATO would not only get stronger but would get more united, and we would see democracies in the world stand up and oppose his aggression and defend the rules-based order," Biden said. "That's exactly what we're seeing today."

Biden called the NATO summit historic, noting that Sweden and Finland had been formally invited to join the alliance, something Biden said was a ripple effect of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The admission path for the two countries — which Biden noted have a "long tradition of neutrality" — was cleared after Turkey dropped its objections.

"[Putin] wanted the Finland-ization of NATO. He got the NATO-ization of Finland," Biden said.

President Biden met with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after Erdogan lifted his objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
President Biden met with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after Erdogan lifted his objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

Biden says there was no 'quid pro quo' for Turkey lifting its hold

The White House has said Biden played a role in helping mediate between Turkey and the two Nordic nations. Biden denied that he had offered any sweeteners to Turkey, such as clearing a path for the ally to buy U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets.

Biden said he has supported the sale publicly for months. "I've not changed my position at all since December. There was no quid pro quo" for Turkey's decision to lift its objection to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, he said.

President Biden boards Air Force One in Madrid after the NATO summit for the flight back to Washington.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
President Biden boards Air Force One in Madrid after the NATO summit for the flight back to Washington.

Biden's next trip is to the Middle East. But he downplayed a meeting with the Saudi royal family

Biden has faced increasing political pressure at home because of surging gasoline prices. He plans to travel to Israel and Saudi Arabia next month to talk about a variety of diplomatic issues, including with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

But asked whether he'd make the case to Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to pump more oil, Biden downplayed the bilateral meetings that officials have said will be part of the trip.

"It's in Saudi Arabia, but it's not about Saudi Arabia," he said.

"I guess I will see the King and the Crown Prince, but that's not the meeting I'm going to. They'll be part of a much larger meeting," he said.

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Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.