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Sinema opposes Biden's call for filibuster exception to pass abortion rights

Kyrsten Sinema
Posted at 10:27 AM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 14:47:26-04

PHOENIX — Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema remains committed to upholding the Senate filibuster, a spokesperson said Friday, a day after President Joe Biden said he would support making an exception to codify abortion rights in federal law.

"Senator Sinema's position on the filibuster has not changed," the spokesperson told ABC News.

While West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin hasn't weighed in specifically after Biden's call, all signs are that he, too, remains opposed to such a carveout. Without the support of both Democrats, a change to the Senate rules is likely not possible.

Biden is under pressure to act on reproductive rights after the Supreme Court last Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision legalizing abortion access nationwide for the past five decades.

Biden on Thursday called the high court's behavior "outrageous," stating he supported an exception to the Senate's 60-vote threshold to protect abortion rights.

"We have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law," he said. "And the way to do that is to make sure Congress votes to do that. And if the filibuster gets in the way it's like voting rights, it should be we provide an exception for this, except the required exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision."

Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden attends a press conference with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Akasaka Palace state guest house in Tokyo Monday, May 23, 2022. (Nicolas Datiche/Pool Photo via AP)

Biden earlier this year voiced support for a filibuster carveout to pass voting rights legislation, but that too faced opposition from Manchin and Sinema.

The administration has announced several steps aimed at safeguarding existing protections for women, such as protecting access for medication abortion and ensuring that pregnant patients can get emergency medical care. Earlier this week, Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said every option is being explored with top legal advisers.

But Biden's acknowledged that such executive action can only go so far, stating it is ultimately up to Congress to enshrine abortion rights at the federal level.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Friday said "Democrats are fighting ferociously to enshrine Roe v Wade into law."

Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

But the party's options remain extremely limited, so long as the Senate filibuster is intact.

When asked about Biden's call for filibuster carveout, Sinema's office referred ABC News to the op-ed the senator wrote last summer and her statement following the leaked Dobbs decision earlier this year. In both statements, Sinema affirmed her belief that the filibuster has been used to protect women's rights.

"Protections in the Senate safeguarding against the erosion of women's access to health care have been used half-a-dozen times in the past ten years, and are more important now than ever," she said in the previous statement.

Congress Campaign Donations Sinema
FILE - Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Oct. 19, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Twenty years ago, a Green Party activist running for city council in Phoenix named Kyrsten Sinema likened the practice of raising campaign cash to “bribery.” Now a first-term Arizona senator, she no longer has such qualms, raising nearly $500,000 in donations from financial and pharmaceutical sector this year. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP, File)

Manchin said last week, following the Supreme Court decision, that he was hopeful for a bipartisan solution.

When the draft abortion decision leaked in May, Manchin told reporters "the filibuster is the only protection of democracy."

ABC News' Allison Pecorin and Libby Cathey contributed to this report.