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President Joe Biden delivered the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington Feb. 7. Also pictured are Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
President Joe Biden delivered the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington Feb. 7. Also pictured are Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
Photo Credit: Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Biden reiterates call to codify Roe v. Wade in State of the Union address

In State of the Union address, Biden touted job growth and infrastructure package passed earlier, while outlining remaining agenda items

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden called the state of the union “strong,” in his second such address Feb. 7, calling for national unity even as he reiterated his call to codify Roe v. Wade.

Biden’s 2023 State of the Union was his first to a divided Congress, as Republicans began their slim House majority in January, and his first to a full chamber, as the event had reduced seating capacity for several years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden called on Congress to codify Roe v. Wade “to protect every woman’s constitutional right to choose.” The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June 2022 overturned the high court’s previous abortion-related precedents in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The president also said he would veto any effort to restrict the procedure at a federal level, as some states have done since the Dobbs decision.

“Make no mistake; if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it,” Biden said.

At times conciliatory and at others boisterous, Biden touted job growth and a bipartisan infrastructure package passed during the first part of his term, while outlining his remaining agenda items including banning assault rifles, restoring the expired child tax credit and passing immigration reform.

But the address was marked by tense moments, as Biden took swipes at some Republicans he said wanted to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits, and as Republican members heckled the president during portions of his speech.

Biden also called for legislation to ban so-called junk fees, “those hidden surcharges too many businesses use to make you pay more,” or lowering the price of prescription drugs.

The U.S. Constitution requires the president to “from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Biden acknowledged that requirement in his address, saying, “I have come here to fulfill my constitutional duty to report on the state of the union.”

“And here is my report,” he said. “Because the soul of this nation is strong, because the backbone of this nation is strong, because the people of this nation are strong, the state of the union is strong.”

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, R-Ark., who delivered the GOP rebuttal to the speech, hit Biden on inflation, crime, and what she characterized as lax responses to a surge of migrants at the southern border and threats from China, as well as culture war items like gender policy.

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