Biden pledges to codify abortion rights if Democrats win midterms: ‘I’ll sign it in January’ – as it happened

Last modified: 07: 58 PM GMT+0


That’s it for the US live politics blog today!

Here’s a summary of what we covered today:

  • Biden promised to codify Roe v wade in his first post-midterms legislation if Democrats keep control of Congress, saying “I’ll sign it in January” during a speech at a DNC event in Washington DC.

  • Biden also promised to veto any federal abortion ban that comes across his desk, as Republicans push for a federal ban following the overturn of Roe v wade in June.

  • Biden pledged to ban assault weapons during the DNC speech. Biden said, “I did it once, I’ll do it again”, in reference to a ban he helped negotiate as a senator.

  • Candidates across key races in Utah, Georgia, and Ohio had heated debates yesterday, with November midterms less than a month away.

Thank you for reading; see you tomorrow!

Could Kathy Hochul be in trouble in New York

New York is not a state that too many Democrats have been worried about in recent years. But a couple of recent polls have shown governor Kathy Hochul with only a relatively narrow lead over her Republican opponent.

Politico has the details:

Two polls Tuesday showed the race for New York governor getting closer than perhaps many had initially expected in the deep-blue state.

A Siena College Research Institute poll early Tuesday found Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul held an 11-percentage-point edge over Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in a state where Democrats have won every statewide race over the past two decades. That was down from a 17-point lead a month ago.

Then an even closer poll came out in the afternoon: A Quinnipiac University survey found Hochul with a razor-thin 50 percent to 46 percent lead over Zeldin — putting Zeldin within striking distance of a potentially major upset.

“In the blue state of New York, the race for governor is competitive,” Quinnipiac polling analyst Mary Snow said in a statement.

Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward announced today that he will be releasing a new audiobook entitled “The Trump Tapes,” which features eight hours of raw interviews with former president Donald Trump.

Here’s more background on the book from CNN:

The interviews offer unvarnished insights into the former president’s worldview and are the most extensive recordings of Trump speaking about his presidency — including explaining his rationale for meeting Kim, his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Trump’s detailed views of the US nuclear arsenal. The audio also shows how Trump decided to share with Woodward the letters Kim wrote to him – the letters that helped spark the DOJ investigation into classified documents Trump took to Mar-a-Lago…

Woodward said in the book’s introduction that he is releasing the recordings in part because “hearing Trump speak is a completely different experience to reading the transcripts or listening to snatches of interviews on television or the internet.”

He describes Trump as “raw, profane, divisive and deceptive. His language is often retaliatory.”

“Yet, you will also hear him engaging and entertaining, laughing, ever the host. He is trying to win me over, sell his presidency to me. The full-time salesman,” Woodward said. “I wanted to put as much of Trump’s voice, his own words, out there for the historical record and so people could hear and judge and make their own assessments.”

Jean-Pierre also mentioned student loan forgiveness applications that opened on Monday, as lawsuits are still being waged against Biden’s proposal.

Jean-Pierre on student debt relief: The president wanted to keep a campaign promise. We’re talking about 40 million borrowers who are going to benefit from this policy.

— David Smith (@SmithInAmerica) October 18, 2022

Jean-Pierre has been asked several questions about the economy, specifically about gas prices and inflation.

One question centered on the strength of the economy, as Bloomberg economists predict a “100% chance” of a recession, but Jean-Pierre contended that the economy is resilient given economic policies put forth by Biden.

Jean-Pierre: “Let’s not forget what the president has done the past 19 months. He has made the economy his top priority.”

— David Smith (@SmithInAmerica) October 18, 2022

On oil, Jean-Pierre said that the oil production under Biden has increased, a seeming conflict given Biden’s past comments about transitioning towards cleaner energy options.

Jean-Pierre: “There is no shortage of opportunity or incentive for oil companies to ramp up production… The United States has produced more oil in President Biden’s first year than under President Trump’s first year.”

— David Smith (@SmithInAmerica) October 18, 2022

A reporter asked a question about Brittney Griner, who turned 32 years old today.

Jean-Pierre has said that it is a priority of Biden to get Griner home, as well as Paul Whelan, a former US marine who has been incarcerated in Russia since 2018.

Jean-Pierre on Brittney Griner: “Getting Brittney home, getting Paul Whelan home is a priority for this administration… We’re going to continue working through our channels that we have with Russia.”

— David Smith (@SmithInAmerica) October 18, 2022

Jean-Pierre would not provide information on Griner’s condition, what access to the WNBA star looks like, or other questions.

Jean-Pierre was just asked what Biden’s plan is if Democrats do not keep control in the midterm elections come November.

Jean-Pierre responded with: “The way that we make Roe into law is to make sure we have legislation and we codify it. That is the best way to protect women’s rights.”

Jean-Pierre: “The way that we make Roe into law is to make sure we have legislation and we codify it. That is the best way to protect women’s rights.”

— David Smith (@SmithInAmerica) October 18, 2022

Jean-Pierre added that the president believes that it’s important for people to “make their voices heard”.

Jean-Pierre: “He’s always said that what people need to do is make their voices heard.”

— David Smith (@SmithInAmerica) October 18, 2022

Jean-Pierre also refused to give a specific number of how many more votes would be enough for Biden to codify Roe.

Press briefing is now underway.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre opened up the conference about the overturning of Roe v wade.

Jean-Pierre confirmed again that Biden plans on making Roe v wade the “law of the land” around the 50th anniversary of the Roe v wade’s decision next year.

At White House briefing. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: “President Biden is continuing to fight to restore reproductive rights for millions of American women… President Biden believes that Roe was rightly decided nearly 50 years ago.”

— David Smith (@SmithInAmerica) October 18, 2022


The White house press briefing should be happening shortly, scheduled for 1:45 pm eastern time.

Stay tuned!

Biden will be speaking on gas prices tomorrow, said White house chief of staff on Twitter.

In a response to comments from Hill reporter Hanna Trudo about Biden’s speech on abortion, Ronald Klain responded that Biden will be speaking about gas prices tomorrow.

Abortion as a closing pitch was always going to be a really risky proposition. But up against the economy? It makes it look almost fringe. Of course many people will disagree with this, but the cost of gas is *extremely* important to nearly everyone, abortion is simply not

— Hanna Trudo (@HCTrudo) October 18, 2022

Not an either / or. @POTUS spoke about abortion today, will speak about gas prices tomorrow.

— Ronald Klain (@WHCOS) October 18, 2022

Biden also pledged to veto any federal abortion ban, warning that Republicans have made efforts to push such legislation.

Biden claims Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy would push a national abortion ban if the GOP wins the House:

“If Republicans get their way with a national ban, it won’t matter where you live … If such a bill were to pass in the next several years, *whispers* I'll veto it."

— The Recount (@therecount) October 18, 2022

Biden also touched on gun control, promising that if Democrats kept control of Congress in January, he would sign a ban on assault weapons.

“And by the way if you give me a Democratic congress we’re going to ban assault weapons again”, said Biden.

Biden added: “I did it once, I’ll do it again”, referring to a 10-year ban he negotiated as a senator in 1994.

'I'll sign it in January': Biden pledges to codify Roe v Wade if Democrats win midterms

There it is. Biden has officially announced that if Democrats gain control of Congress, his first move will be to send a bill codifying Roe v Wade and sign such legislation ahead of the 50th anniversary of the 1973 decision.

“I believe Congress should codify Roe, once and for all,” said Biden as the crowd cheered.

Biden added: “The first bill that I will send to the Congress will be to codify Roe v Wade … and if Congress passes it, I’ll sign it in January.

“Together, we’ll restore the right to choose to every woman, in every state in America,” said Biden, emphasizing that the crowd needed to vote to ensure such protections.


Biden is currently speaking at a DNC event at Howard Theatre.

So far, Biden has mentioned that 16 states have passed bans on abortions since the overturning of Roe v Wade in June.

.@POTUS says 16 states have enacted abortion bans since Dobbs. “There is so much confusion and uncertainty” for doctors and nurses who just want to do their jobs

— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) October 18, 2022

Biden also warned about the decision having consequences on other issues, calling out justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion that same-sex marriage, contraception, and other issues should be re-examined.

The DNC event has started, with abortion rights remaining in the spotlight.

From journalist Kellie Meyer:

Biden's backdrop at the DC event today. Keeping abortion in the spotlight ahead of the midterms.

The issue energized the base, esp. women voters, after SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade in June. New polling showing that energy faded in the fall.

We discuss tonight on @NewsNation

— Kellie Meyer (@KellieMeyerNews) October 18, 2022

We’re currently waiting on Biden to begin his speech about midterm elections at the Howard Theatre in Washington DC, scheduled for 12:15 pm eastern time.

Stay tuned!


Biden promises to codify Roe v Wade as first piece of post-midterm legislation

Joe Biden will announce today that the first bill he will send to Capitol Hill will be one that codifies federal abortion protections, if Democrats can secure enough seats in Congress, reported Reuters.

This announcement is the first time Biden has prioritized abortion rights, with the November midterm elections less than a month away.

Republicans are projected to win during the November election, likely taking control of at least the House. Abortion has remained a salient issue, one that could help Democrats win more support.

Biden will expand more on the promise today during planned remarks at a Democratic National Convention (DNC) event.


In case you missed it: former president Barack Obama chimed in on Democrats’ messaging ahead of midterms. More from the Guardian’s Sam Levine:

Barack Obama acknowledged Democrats can be “a buzzkill” with their abstract campaign messaging and could better connect with voters by emphasizing what constituents feel in their day to day lives.

During an interview on Pod Save America, released Friday, Obama acknowledged that he “used to get into trouble” when he appeared too professorial, including by standing behind a lectern and talking about policy in theoretical ways that didn’t directly connect with voters.

“That’s not how people think about these issues,” Obama said, less than a month before his party tries to hang on to control of both congressional chambers during the 8 November midterms. “They think about them in terms of, you know, the life I’m leading day to day. How does politics … how is it even relevant to the things that I care most deeply about?

“My family, my kids, work that gives me satisfaction, having fun, not being a buzzkill, right?”

Read the full article here.


Challenging Scalise is Democrat Katie Darling, a business executive.

Darling has centered her campaign around climate change concerns, the state’s abortion ban, and Louisiana’s underperforming schools, reports the Washington Post.

Here’s a now-viral campaign video from Darling, which depicts a fictionalized scenario of her giving birth.

Louisiana ranks 50th in crime, 48th in education, and 46th in health care. I’m running for Congress to stop this race to the bottom because our children deserve better.

— Katie Darling for Louisiana (@katie4louisiana) October 3, 2022

Read the full article on the video here.

Louisiana representative Steve Scalise is under fire for new video footage from January 6, showing the second ranking Republican standing next to House speaker Nancy Pelosi as she called for military assistance.

From the New Orleans Advocate:

Last Thursday, a House investigatory panel released a video showing that on the day of the riot, Scalise was standing an arm’s length away from Pelosi listening to her demand for the National Guard. Critics have denounced Scalise for attacking Pelosi for not calling for help even though he can be seen on the videotape near her while she did.

Scalise had questioned if Democratic leadership failed to quickly get help during the Capitol riots, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building.

Scalise chanted “hear, hear” during a June news conference when Republican members asked about Democrats’ actions, reported the Advocate.

Read the full article here.

As for Lee, Utah senator Mitt Romney still hasn’t endorsed him, highlighting a potent divide in the Utah GOP between Trump loyalists and his critics.

Mitt Romney still hasn't endorsed his fellow Republican senator from Utah, Mike Lee, in his re-election bid.

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 18, 2022

Trump was also a key discussion topic in Utah’s senate debate.

Independent candidate Evan McMullin accused Republican Mike Lee, the senate incumbent, of being loyal to Trump.

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, right, and his independent challenger Evan McMullin pose for photographs before their televised debate, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, in Orem, Utah, three weeks before Election Day.

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, right, and his independent challenger Evan McMullin pose for photographs before their televised debate, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, in Orem, Utah, three weeks before Election Day.
Photograph: Rick Bowmer/AP

“I’m not going to Washington, if we prevail, to be a bootlicker for Donald Trump or Joe Biden. And that’s a commitment I’ve made to putting Utah first”, said McMullin of Lee.

Meanwhile, Lee argued that Democrats were McMullin’s “adopted party”, reported Politico.

Lee added: “Parties are an important proxy. They’re an important proxy for ideas. You’re asking the people to put faith, blind trust in you…That’s not how we lead to a good policy outcome.”

Trump and Pelosi were also a contention point in last night’s Ohio debate.

Ryan pressed Vance on his association with Trump, calling Vance out for criticizing Trump at times but asking for the former president’s support on other occasions.

“You have to have the courage to take on your leaders. These leaders in DC will eat you up like a chew toy,” said Ryan, reported CNN.

“You were calling Trump America’s Hitler, then you kiss his ass, and then you kissed his ass, and he endorsed you and you said he is the greatest president of all time.”

Trump also made a comment at a recent rally, saying Vance was “kissing my ass” to get Trump to campaign for him.

In response, Vance said: “Donald Trump told a joke…and Tim Ryan has decided to run his entire campaign on it.”


Last night, Ryan and Vance had a highly personal and heated final debate, with the two attempting to persuade voters as midterms loom.

In one moment, Ryan accused Vance of “running around” people that support the ‘great replacement theory’, the belief that white people are being replaced by immigrants and other ethnic minorities, reported CNN.

“There is no big grand conspiracy – this is a country who has been enriched by immigrants,” said Ryan.

Vance was angry at Ryan’s remarks, noting that his wife Usha is the “daughter of South Asian immigrants.”

Vance also blamed Ryan’s accusations on his biracial children “get attacked by scumbags online and in person because you are so desperate for political power, that you will accuse me, the father of three beautiful biracial babies, of engaging in racism. We are sick of it.”

MODERATOR: "What is your opinion of the "Great Replacement Theory?'"

Tim Ryan accuses J.D. Vance of believing in the ideas that inspired the Buffalo shooting.

— (@townhallcom) October 17, 2022

Heated debates as US midterms approach

Good morning. Candidates vying for various positions had tense debates on Monday, with midterm elections less than a month away.

In Ohio, Democratic representative Tim Ryan and Republican candidate JD Vance had their last debate as US Senate candidates, reported Axios. The heated debate touched on a number of topics, including accusations of racism that Ryan accused Vance of. In response, Vance called Ryan “desperate” and “disgraceful”, blaming the Democrat for abuse facing his biracial children.

Down south, candidates in Georgia’s gubernatorial race also had a debate, Axios further reported. Democrat Stacey Abrams and incumbent Brian Kemp clashed about gun policy, as Abrams blamed Kemp’s lax approach to gun control on increased violence in the Peach state.


Gloria Oladipo in New York

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Democrats lose Senate vote to codify abortion rights 49-51 – as it happened
Democrat Joe Manchin sides with Republicans in voting against the measure

Richard Luscombe

11, May, 2022 @9:05 PM

Article image
US midterms 2022: Democrats’ Senate hopes grow as vote count edges forward – as it happened
Democrat Mark Kelly appears close to re-election in Arizona, with Nevada still up in the air and Georgia going to a runoff vote

Sam Levin in Los Angeles (now) and Chris Stein in Washington (earlier)

12, Nov, 2022 @1:27 AM

Article image
This Will Not Pass review: Trump-Biden blockbuster is dire reading for Democrats
Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns have made waves with tapes of Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans – but the president’s party has more to fear from what they reveal

Lloyd Green

01, May, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Democrats on the defensive as economy becomes primary concern over abortion
Polls indicate tide shifting toward Republicans with high inflation rates and gas prices working in their favor

Joan E Greve in Washington

28, Oct, 2022 @9:00 AM

Article image
Fury after Democrats publish and withdraw letter urging Biden to negotiate with Russia – as it happened
Letter was drafted months ago and ‘released by staff without vetting’, says Pramila Jayapal

Chris Stein

25, Oct, 2022 @8:06 PM

Article image
Biden hails ‘good day for democracy’ as Democrats defy midterm expectations
President says ‘giant red wave didn’t happen’ as Senate still in balance and race for House control much closer than predicted

Joan E Greve and David Smith in Washington, and Sam Levin in Los Angeles

09, Nov, 2022 @10:24 PM

Article image
Kansas’s vote to protect abortion rights upends US midterm elections – as it happened
Kansas voters back measure to protect abortion rights in sign overturning of Roe v​ Wade will have unpredictable effects ahead of November elections

Chris Stein

03, Aug, 2022 @8:10 PM

Article image
Help or hindrance? Biden takes a back seat as Trump goes all in on midterms
The president, beset by low poll ratings, has been focusing on fundraising, while his predecessor swoops in for campaign rallies, whether Republican candidates like it or not

David Smith in Washington

08, Oct, 2022 @5:00 AM

Article image
Democrats beating expectations as John Fetterman wins crucial US Senate race – as it happened
Latest updates and results as millions across the US cast votes in what is largely seen as a referendum on Biden’s presidency – follow all the latest news

Martin Belam (now); Maanvi Singh and Chris Stein (earlier) in Washington

09, Nov, 2022 @9:38 AM

Article image
Midterms scenarios: will Republicans take the Senate and the House?
A handful of general scenarios could play out on Tuesday, each having huge significance for Biden and Donald Trump

David Smith in Washington

08, Nov, 2022 @7:00 AM