During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass a bill to codify Roe v. Wade into law following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year, vowing to veto any “national ban” on abortion that Congress might pass.
In a more than hourlong speech, Biden told members of both chambers that it was “our duty to protect all the people’s rights and freedoms.”
“Congress must restore the right that was taken away,” the president said. He was temporarily interrupted as he vowed “to protect Roe,” denouncing the Supreme Court’s decision last June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
In the ruling, the nation’s high court decided that abortion is not a constitutional right and returned to the states the ability to make their own laws governing abortion, which was severely limited by the 1973 Roe ruling.
“The vice president and I are doing everything to protect access to reproductive healthcare and safeguard patient privacy,” he said. “But already, more than a dozen states are enforcing extreme abortion bans.”
As Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives last month, Biden vowed “if Congress passes a national ban” on abortion, he will veto it. The comment received strong applause from Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The president also celebrated the bipartisan passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which codified the legalization of same-sex marriage. He also demanded Congress pass the Equality Act, which would add gender identity and sexual orientation to federal civil rights protections.
“Let’s also pass the bipartisan Equality Act to ensure LGBTQ Americans, especially transgender young people, can live with safety and dignity,” the president added.
Biden addressed an assortment of issues, plugging the bipartisan achievements of Congress and his administration, touting 300 pieces of bipartisan legislation he signed into law.
While often receiving applause, Biden was also periodically heckled by Republican members of Congress, especially at one point when he accused them of trying to cut Social Security.
At another point, when Biden discussed the harms of the fentanyl addiction epidemic, one lawmaker shouted, “it’s your fault,” referring to the unsecured southern border under his administration from which the drug is being funneled into the country.
Biden argued that major corporations were not paying their fair share in taxes, called for a federal assault weapons ban, supported expanding preschool to 3- and 4-year-olds and also championed infrastructure improvements.
He commended those who work with seniors and those with disabilities, saying that such workers “are doing God’s work” when they care for the vulnerable.
Shortly after the address ended, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave the Republican response from the governor’s mansion in Little Rock, arguing that “Biden and the Democrats failed you.”
Sanders stated that “the Biden administration seems more interested in woke fantasies than the hard reality Americans face every day” and that “Republicans will not surrender this fight.”
“Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight,” she said.
“In the radical left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country.”
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