Biden hits back at GOP agenda rollout

President Biden on Friday sought to dismantle the agenda proposed hours earlier by House Republican leaders should they take back the House, hitting Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for dodging key issues and warning that a GOP majority would try to strip away fundamental rights and government programs.

Biden, in remarks at a Democratic National Committee event at the National Education Association (NEA), issued a point-by-point rebuttal to the agenda unveiled by McCarthy.

“We didn’t hear a mention of the right to choose. We didn’t hear a mention of Medicare. We didn’t hear a mention of Social Security,” Biden told the crowd at NEA headquarters.

Biden, pointing to a proposal from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that would ban abortion after 15 weeks, warned the GOP would attempt to block access to the procedure if they hold the House majority. He pledged to veto any such legislation if it passed, arguing a stronger Democratic majority could help codify abortion access.

“If you give me two more Democratic senators in the United States Senate, I promise you … we’re going to codify Roe,” Biden said to applause. “We’ll once again make Roe the law of the land, and we’ll once again protect a women’s right to choose.”

Democrats would likely need to gain two seats in the Senate to change the chamber’s filibuster rules and codify Roe. Two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, oppose changing those rules even to codify Roe.

Gaining two Senate seats would be tough for Democrats but not impossible considering the current battleground states.

Yet Biden also would need to keep a House majority, which might be a lot tougher. Republicans are heavily favored to win back the House majority this fall.

Biden hopes to use abortion rights as a key campaign theme to prevent that from happening, however.

On Friday, he ticked through various themes of McCarthy’s policy rollout throughout the speech.

He rebuked McCarthy’s pledge to help Americans live longer, healthier lives by arguing some Republicans have called for cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Biden cited a policy platform from Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that called for a vote every five years to determine the fate of those programs.

Biden pushed back on McCarthy’s focus on lowering crime and improving public safety by noting all Republicans in Congress voted against the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion package passed in early 2021 that included billions of dollars in funding for local police departments to hire more officers. 

And Biden again rejected calls to “defund the police,” while highlighting GOP criticism of the FBI over the search of former President Trump’s Florida home.

The president took on McCarthy’s economic proposals, arguing his administration inherited an economy that “was flat on its back” because of the pandemic and has helped revitalize it through a bipartisan infrastructure law, the American Rescue Plan and most recently the Inflation Reduction Act, which caps prescription drug costs and aims to combat the effects of climate change.

And Biden took aim at Republicans for wanting to restore faith in elections, noting dozens of GOP lawmakers still refuse to accept the results of the 2020 election.

“Eighty-one million people voted Democrat for president last time,” Biden said. “Even though they lost court case, after court case, after court case, after court case — even in front of Trump-appointed judges. And recount after recount proved the results were accurate. It’s become a litmus test in their party to pledge loyalty to Donald Trump by buying into the big lie.”

Biden argued the midterm elections would be a clear choice between Democrats and their policy wins, and Republicans who have “embraced the big lie.”

“This November you have to choose to be a nation of hope, unity and optimism, or a nation of fear, division, darkness,” Biden said.

House Republicans in the rollout of their platform avoided sore subjects like abortion, election denialism and Trump. Instead, the GOP leaned into the topics it wants on voters’ minds this fall: inflation, the border and the IRS.

“Joe Biden and the Democrats have put special interests ahead of parents and students, criminals over safe streets, and wrecked an economy with their radical agenda. Simply put, Biden and Democrats’ woke schemes are out of touch with the concerns of families,” Republican National Committee spokesperson Nathan Brand said in response to Biden’s speech.

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