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PoliticsBehind Biden’s Reversal on Hyde Amendment: Lobbying, Backlash and an Ally’s Call

17:20  08 june  2019
17:20  08 june  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

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Mr. Biden suddenly renounced his support for a measure to restrict federal abortion funding after blacks, women’ s groups and a longtime friend Mr. Biden told the attendees at a gala dinner hosted by the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta that he could no longer support Hyde — a reversal

Biden later said he regretted his comments. So, what are Biden ’ s odds? He entered the race as an The Hyde Amendment , named for former Representative Henry Hyde , a Republican from Illinois, was first In her remarks, Ms. Abrams, who delivered an impassioned call for protecting voter rights, also

Behind Biden’s Reversal on Hyde Amendment: Lobbying, Backlash and an Ally’s Call© Audra Melton for The New York Times At a gala in Atlanta on Thursday, Joseph R. Biden Jr. said he no longer supported a measure that prohibits federal funding for most abortions.

ATLANTA — When Joseph R. Biden Jr. took the stage at a fund-raiser that drew many African-American Democrats Thursday night, he was under siege over his support for a measure that prohibits federal funding for most abortions.

Black women, including on his own campaign staff, were urging him to reverse his position, pointing to restrictive abortion laws passed in Georgia and in other Southern states. He was facing a chorus of blistering-if-implicit criticism from his Democratic rivals, and abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood were intensely lobbying his staff. And he feared that his coming health care proposal could be overshadowed by questions of why he supported limiting abortion access for poor women and women of color who rely on Medicaid.

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[Update: Joe Biden denounces Hyde Amendment , reversing his position.] Several of Mr. Biden ’ s primary opponents moved quickly Wednesday to highlight their own opposition to the Hyde Amendment , underscoring how sharply Mr. Biden ’ s position differs from many in the Democratic field.

Biden ’ s presidential campaign had said Wednesday that he still supported the controversial ban. Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, similarly celebrated Biden ' s reversal . “At a time where the fundamental freedoms enshrined in Roe are under attack, we need full throated allies in

Then there were pleas from longtime allies, like Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who conveyed to Mr. Biden’s campaign that in this fraught moment he should reconsider his decades-long support of the measure, known as the Hyde Amendment.

And he did.

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Mr. Biden told the attendees at a gala dinner hosted by the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta that he could no longer support Hyde — a reversal from his position the day before when he instructed his staff to say he backed the measure.

“If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” he said at the dinner.

His sudden turnaround illustrates his larger challenge as he runs for president for a third time: With his long legislative record, and instinct for moderation and consensus, he is running headlong into an energized base that has grown far more liberal in the decade since he became vice president.

Joe Biden says he still supports ban on federal funding of abortions, after apparent reversal

Joe Biden says he still supports ban on federal funding of abortions, after apparent reversal Joe Biden's stance on abortion came under attack on Wednesday after his campaign confirmed that the former vice president still supports the controversial Hyde Amendment, passed more than 40 years ago, that bars federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape or incest. Biden's position is consistent with the views he held while serving in the Senate. But it marks a departure from the rest of the sprawling Democratic field. Biden's continued support of the Hyde Amendment, first reported by NBC News, comes about a month after Biden said that he opposed the amendment.

Biden denounces Hyde Amendment , reversing position. The Trump campaign quickly spiked the football on Biden ’ s quick flip-flop. “He’ s just not very good at this. Joe Biden is an existential threat to Joe Biden ,” said the Trump campaign’ s communications director.

Former Vice President Joe Biden reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment Thursday after facing intense backlash from within his own party. (RELATED: Biden Faces Leftwing Backlash For Sticking By Hyde Amendment ). NBC News correspondent Mike Memoli noted the reversal , tweeting

[What is the Hyde Amendment? Here’s a look at what it does, and why the politics have shifted.]

And his initial reluctance and then hasty acquiescence on Hyde also underscored the degree to which his own impulses are driving the campaign as he grapples with how to retain what he and his advisers believe is his biggest asset — his reputation for authenticity — amid the scrutiny and pressures he faces as the front-runner.

A Roman Catholic, Mr. Biden has spent decades straddling the issue of abortion, asserting his support for individual abortion rights and the codification of Roe v. Wade, while also backing the Hyde Amendment, arguing that it was an inappropriate use of taxpayer money.

But Mr. Biden, his allies acknowledge, had plainly misread what activists on the left would accept on an extraordinarily sensitive issue. For all his reluctance to abandon his long-held position on federal funding for abortion, Mr. Biden ultimately shifted in order to meet the mood of emergency within his party’s electoral base.

Biden caves on the Hyde Amendment: what was the point of his candidacy?

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Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden reversed his stance on the Hyde amendment , Thursday, saying he "can no longer Biden faced backlash from other Democrats after his campaign held that he supported the amendment despite allegedly telling a woman during a rally

The former vice president’ s reversal on the Hyde Amendment came after rivals and women’ s rights groups blasted him for affirming through campaign aides And Biden ’ s explanation tacitly repeated his critics’ arguments that the Hyde Amendment is another abortion barrier that disproportionately affects

“He came to this decision on his own, nobody pushed him,” said Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, his campaign co-chairman who went on CNN Wednesday night to defend Mr. Biden’s support for barring federal funds for abortion services.

A senior campaign official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, confirmed that it was Mr. Biden himself who first reaffirmed his support for the Hyde Amendment and then decided to flip his view. His staff laid out the challenge he would face retaining his position, particularly with the first debate looming later this month.

Mr. Biden initially believed his party would offer him forbearance on such a complex, difficult issue. But by Thursday afternoon, it had become clear that his position on the Hyde Amendment was not tenable.

[Sign up for our politics newsletter and join our conversation about the 2020 presidential race.]

As abortion rights groups expressed their displeasure publicly, officials at organizations such as Planned Parenthood and Naral Pro-Choice America — as well as senior Biden campaign staff members — were privately lobbying him to change his stance.

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“Our commitment to economic justice, racial justice, is all tied into dawning awareness that Hyde has to be repealed,” said Ilyse Hogue, the president of Naral. “The salience of the issues has been obvious over the last 48 hours, but I think that’s only going to grow.”

Organizations that support abortion rights say the issue of access to abortion has come into sharper focus for voters — especially for Democratic women and women of color, crucial constituencies in the 2020 presidential primary — amid Republican efforts to enact far-reaching anti-abortion laws across the country.

“With the attacks we’re seeing, there’s no way that this election won’t be about access to health care,” said Kelley Robinson, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Biden’s actions show us that even the top candidates are seeing the same.”

Those state measures seemed to be on Mr. Biden’s mind Thursday afternoon when he held a private round-table discussion with African-American community leaders and elected officials at The Gathering Spot, a co-working space and private club prominent in Atlanta’s black community.

He did not discuss the Hyde Amendment explicitly, several attendees said. But as the conversation turned to the 2018 election for governor in Georgia — which many Democrats say was affected by voter suppression tactics — Mr. Biden suggested that the election of a Republican governor led to the state’s passage of a stringent anti-abortion measure, last month.

The Hyde Amendment is saving (mostly nonwhite) lives

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“He didn’t say, ‘And that’s why we had an abortion law,’ but everyone knew what he was talking about,” said one attendee, said Frank Ski, host of the V-103 morning radio show in Atlanta.

[Democratic candidates are already going after Mr. Biden, but not by name.]

Around three hours later, Mr. Biden stood at a gala that capped a daylong African-American leadership summit and walked back his support for Hyde, pointing to “extreme laws” in states including Georgia.

After his appearance he spoke on the phone to Mr. Coons, who repeated what he had conveyed to Mr. Biden’s campaign earlier in the day: “With these state laws moving quickly and these anti-choice judges being named it’s important for us to articulate that we oppose the Hyde Amendment,” he told him.

In an interview Friday, Mr. Coons said “the environment nationally and in the states has changed,” and that Mr. Biden “understands that.”

Coloring Mr. Biden’s approach to the abortion issue has been a larger concern, held by the former vice president and his closest advisers, about the implications of Mr. Biden spending too much time reversing or expressing remorse for his past policy stances. Before entering the race, Mr. Biden and his inner circle resolved that while he would have to take steps to assuage liberal reservations about his record, he could not afford to make the first few months of the campaign an extended apology tour.

During his speech in Atlanta, Mr. Biden took pains to state explicitly that he was not repudiating his previous stance on abortion funding and would make “no apologies” for it.

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“This is about health care, not politics,’’ a Biden spokesman, TJ Ducklo, said in a statement Friday. “We’re in an unprecedented moment of crisis for choice in this country, and Vice President Biden believes he can no longer support an amendment that blocks access to health care that women need.’’

Mr. Biden’s aides believe that he is broadly acceptable with the party’s rank-and-file, no matter what the loudest critics on Twitter may say, but even they concede that he must move on some issues to accommodate where Democrats are today.

Indeed, his reversal on Hyde is the second time his campaign has signaled a preference for caution but quickly realized how difficult that is in this political environment. After an adviser indicated last month that Mr. Biden would seek a “middle ground” on climate change, he was excoriated on the left, prompting him to unveil his green energy proposal earlier this week to demonstrate he is serious about the issue.

Yet even though Mr. Biden is at odds with his party’s liberal wing, he still notches high poll numbers, is poised to raise as much as any of his rivals this quarter and continues to rack up endorsements.

The debate over Mr. Biden’s position on the Hyde Amendment, a Biden adviser said, had been underway inside the campaign for some weeks as his team works on a proposal that aims to expand health care access. Some in the campaign had been arguing that support for the amendment was antithetical to that goal, arguments that intensified on Wednesday and Thursday.

Other supporters of the former vice president, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, were frustrated that he shifted on an issue in which polls show most general election voters agree with him. One high-level Biden backer predicted the reversal would be a negative for him in crucial Midwestern states, should he become the nominee.

Separately, Michael Wear, an anti-abortion Democrat who served in the Obama-Biden administration, expressed exasperation that his party was not attempting to seize the mantle of moderation on abortion at a time when Republicans in states like Alabama are seeking to ban the procedure, even in cases of rape and incest.

“Given the extremism of the Republican Party right now on this issue, are pro-choice women really going to stay home because we support the Hyde Amendment?” Mr. Wear asked. He pointed to polling from the 2016 presidential race indicating that only 36 percent of likely voters said they supported allowing Medicaid to cover abortion.

But just as Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia — like Mr. Biden a practicing Catholic — dropped his support for the Hyde Amendment after Hillary Clinton put him on the ticket three years ago, Mr. Biden had little choice now, his supporters said.

Mr. Trump’s presidency and the prospect that legalized abortion could effectively be on the ballot in 2020 has further reduced tolerance for deviations from orthodoxy among abortion rights leaders. As one Biden adviser noted, he is a realist about the politics of the issue now within his party.

“There’s more sensitivity because of the all-out assault on a woman’s right to choose from every direction,” said Representative Karen Bass of California, who heads the Congressional Black Caucus, citing state legislatures, the courts and the Trump administration. “And if you’re talking about the Hyde Amendment, what you’re talking about is limiting poor women.”

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