After previously saying the issue should be decided by the states, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a bill in September that would prohibit abortions in the US at 15 weeks of pregnancy. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy previously said he would back a national 15-week ban, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly shot down the idea, saying the issue should be left to the states.
“McConnell doesn’t want to do anything on abortion,” said Feehery, the Republican strategist. “He is dead set against the Lindsey Graham bill.”
What’s more likely for now is that Republicans in the House push to prevent any federal funding for abortions, he added. They could do this by making permanent the Hyde Amendment, a longtime budgetary provision that prohibits the use of federal dollars for the procedure. Biden, a previously staunch supporter of the provision, had vowed to repeal it during his presidential campaign but was forced to sign a $1.5 trillion spending bill last spring that included it.
“The Republicans could try to tighten the screws on abortion, but that’s an interesting question for them,” Sragow said. “In light of the Supreme Court ruling, you could make the argument that they’ve accomplished what they want to accomplish and that they can now turn their attention to other issues.”
At the same time, Sragow said, he could see Republicans try to restrict abortion to keep Democrats from focusing on issues that impact more Americans’ daily lives, like well-paying jobs, safe neighborhoods, and good schools for their kids.
“The more that the Democrats talk about abortion, the more they’re not talking about the day-to-day issues that voters are concerned about,” Sragow said. “I’m not saying abortion is not a very, very important issue. I’m saying it’s not what most voters make up their minds about.”
Republicans could push for big cuts to critical programs
Though it was not a main focus of the 2022 campaign, the biggest issue looming over Congress right now is the anticipated fight over raising the debt ceiling. The US government is expected to hit the limit on how much money it can borrow as soon as early 2023. If Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling, the government could run out of money, default on its debts, and shut down.
“That’s the single biggest thing that affects everybody’s lives,” said Wendy Schiller, director of the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy at Brown University. “It affects everybody’s retirement, it affects Social Security, it affects every bond issued by the federal government.”