Abortion fight adds to Biden’s growing policy backlog

The Texas Abortion Act adds to the growing number of issues Biden must prioritize, including reforming law enforcement agencies, recasting immigration laws, and raising the federal minimum wage. They are all topics that he has promised to address quickly. And it increases pressure on him to support a major reorganization of the other two branches of government, including the elimination of the Senate filibuster and the expansion of the Supreme Court.

“When you think about what happened in Texas last week, both in terms of voting rights and … [abortion], these are the same challenges we’re going to face in Congress right now, “said Destiny Lopez, co-president of the Reproductive Justice Organization All * Above All. “The Senate is challenging on a number of progressive issues. We’re going to need some help from the White House to get the Senate where it needs to be. “

The Biden government has renewed its calls for Congress codification Roe versus Wade, the nearly 50-year-old decision to legalize abortion nationwide. The House of Representatives is expected to adopt a bill that will enshrine the right to access abortion in federal law, but it doesn’t have 60 votes in the Senate and may not even have all 50 Democrats.

For now, Biden has been focusing on places where he can act immediately, although on certain fronts it is unclear what action the White House can legally take. He set up an “entire government” to respond to Texan law, relying on Justice Department officials and the Department of Health and Human Services to determine what the federal government can do to ensure that Women in Texas and other states considering similar laws have access to safe and legal abortions.

White House officials cited these efforts – along with comments from Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland that the Justice Department was considering restricting Texas law – as a show of determination. Jen Klein, Assistant Assistant to the President and Co-Chair and Executive Director of the White House Gender Policy Council, is helping coordinate the response. Klein said the government will continue to work with lawyers, allies, and Congress to find ways to “increase the constitutional rights of the people under Roe v. To protect the calf ”.

“The administration has been open to ideas and is carefully considering what can actually be done,” said Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of government relations and public policy for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

One of the ideas Ayers would like to see put into practice is the lifting of restrictions on drug abortion by the Food and Drug Administration. Another possible move is for the Justice Department to immediately enforce security protocols set out in a 1994 law that bans threats and obstruction of people in clinics, which Garland has promised. “The department will assist federal law enforcement agencies if an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is attacked,” he said in a statement Monday.

But there is no grand plan of attack in response to Texan law. Even so, Ayers said, “I’m encouraged and I think they are very interested in finding out,” Ayers said.

The greatest advances that Biden could make on abortion law must come with the help of Congress. But a massive bottleneck is forming on this front.

Biden and his Democrats are currently trying to pass a $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation package to fund paid vacation, childcare and education, and climate change initiatives. They are also pushing for a bipartisan $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill to repair crumbling roads, bridges and sewer systems. The hope is that if the Democrats push through these reforms, they can build momentum for other agenda items and the mid-term elections beyond.

“If you look at what has been achieved so far and what is almost inevitably adopted in the reconciliation, it is an enormous achievement,” said the democratic strategist Adrienne Elrod, who worked on Biden’s campaign. “Once we have the reconciliation behind us, I think that some of the other top priorities that the president has consistently spoken about since the election campaign up to now will come to the fore.”

But the momentum that existed for the reconciliation and infrastructure bills has been undone in the past few weeks. After the failed troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden has the lowest approval ratings of his presidency to date. The calendar also works against the party. Congress is already busy passing Biden’s two major spending laws and will soon have to make efforts to maintain government funding and raise the federal credit limit. And by the end of the year, Congressmen will be campaigning – first the mid-term elections and then the next presidential campaign.

With the closing of the law windows, fear has grown louder from many corners of the progressive ecosystem.

Some gun violence survivors and activists have complained that Biden’s efforts to curb gun violence “fall well short of his election promises” and urged him to use his political capital to urge lawmakers to pass new gun laws.

“This is a president who has argued as a candidate that his experience in D.C. enables him to bring all of these people together and get things done, ”said Igor Volsky, executive director of advocacy group Guns Down America. “If he does something about what over 90 percent of Americans want, he can keep his promise again.”

The Democrats also want Congress to pass two voting bills after a series of new bills were signed in Republican states after the 2020 elections and a major change in police policy following the assassination of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department.

“Criminal justice is important to me and of course I want him to devote his entire presidency to criminal justice. That’s not the reality, ”said DeAnna Hoskins, president of JustLeadershipUSA, an advocacy group. “Everyone has an agenda. Everyone has something they are passionate about … everyone has their problems and they have to try to please every damned body. That’s crazy. It’s not going to happen.”

Then there are the issues that Biden has already pushed forward and promised to return to. Democrats, for example, canceled a federal minimum wage increase (from $ 7.25 an hour to $ 15) in response to a parliamentary ruling on Biden’s Coronavirus Relief Act.

Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union, said Biden is speaking to Senate leaders about the issue but there is still no way to move forward. She praised Biden for an ordinance to increase the minimum wage for federal employees and contractors and spoke out about an increase, but said she was “incredibly frustrated” with the inaction of Congress.

“We spoke to the Senate, House of Representatives and White House leaders about when we should do this piece of work – the bipartisan [infrastructure bill]who have favourited Build Back Better reconciliation, suffrage, immigration and police reform – we want to come back and get back to this debate, ”she said.

On his first day in office, Biden also sent a bill to Congress providing a route to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, expanding refugee resettlement, and mandating the use of more technology at the border. It has gone nowhere as the government faces a record number of migrants crossing the southern border.

“They were challenged, I believe, by what is happening at the border with an increase in arrivals,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group. “It was so politicized that it sometimes made them, I think, more cautious than they need to be.”

Sharry said, however, that immigrant advocates are closer to success than they will be in three decades since the reconciliation package is believed to include a path to legal status for migrants who came to the U.S. as children, those who came out in the midst of natural disasters Countries have fled or man-made disasters and vital labor.

“This is our moment to get it right,” said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, “and so I think the question is whether he will use his central power to ensure Congress does so does.”

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