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President Joe Biden‘s move to allow Department of Veterans Affairs facilities to provide abortions in limited circumstances is barely expanding access to the procedure nationwide, even as conservatives seek to block the option in court and Congress.
The VA provided just 34 abortions from September, when the agency released the new policy, through February, according to a VA letter to members of Congress that was obtained by Bloomberg Government. That’s far below the department’s estimate that it would provide or pay for 1,000 in the policy’s first year.
The slow traction of the VA’s new policy demonstrates how few tools Biden has to significantly broaden access to abortion over the opposition of Congress and federal judges. Separately, the Senate is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to block the VA policy.
Few pregnant veterans even qualify to receive an abortion at the agency’s medical centers because the VA’s conditions to receive one are so strict. And even if they do meet the criteria, patients may not turn to VA health providers to terminate a pregnancy because they don’t know it’s available or decide to go elsewhere, say veterans, former VA staff, and national abortion advocates.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), with the support of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), is leading the Senate effort to end the VA policy. The legislation needs only a simple majority of senators voting to pass but it’s still unlikely to become law because it lacks enough support to override a presidential veto.
“We’re just trying to get them to go by the rule of law,” Tuberville said. “It’s not about abortion. The VAs aren’t set up for abortions. They’re going to have to spend a lot of money to be able to do it.” Courtney Rozen has the story.
Biden Under GOP Pressure
- Biden at 2:30 p.m. gives a speech at a union in Accokeek, Maryland contrasting his economic vision compared to House Republicans.
- White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre gives a briefing at 12:15 p.m.
The Biden administration’s efforts to paint the president’s trade policies in the Indo-Pacific as a success are running into skepticism from House Republicans who say Congress needs to take bolder action to compete with China.
An administration rule expanding the definition of bodies of waters subject to federal environmental protections remains in place after the House failed to override Biden’s veto of a measure that would have repealed it.
Lawmakers are split on who shoulders the blame when migrant children are found working in meatpacking plants and farms.
On the Agenda in Congress
- The House meets at 10 a.m. to vote on overturning a Washington, D.C., law on policing practices, as well as begin debate on a bill that would generally bar transgender girls who were assigned male at birth from participating in school athletic activities designated for women or girls
- The Senate gathers at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of a bill to reauthorize firefighter grant programs and the US Fire Administration.
IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel will be in the hot seat Wednesday, as the Senate Finance Committee presses him for the first time since taking over at the agency.
Senate Republicans blocked a bid Schumer (D-N.Y.) to temporarily replace an ailing Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on the Judiciary Committee with another Democrat, leaving a cluster of Biden’s judicial picks in limbo.
US tech companies are pushing to narrow the scope of legislation that could ban TikTok in the US, creating new obstacles as the Biden administration seeks to confront China’s influence.
MORE FROM CONGRESS
- Drug Pricing: The leaders of two key Senate health committees are trying to strike a deal on a slate of drug-pricing bills touching everything from generic approvals to pharmaceutical middlemen to the cost of insulin. Read more
- Thomas’ Gifts: Democratic lawmaker’s concerns that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to publicly report trips and a property deal tied to a Republican donor have been forwarded to a US judiciary panel that handles financial disclosures, a a top judiciary administrative official said. Read more.
- Chinese Military: US defense officials warned lawmakers at a House Armed Services Committee hearing about the growing risks of Chinese military power and the need to accelerate US development of hypersonic weapons. Read more
Ahead of the 2024 Election
Fox News agreed to pay $787.5 million to settle a voting machine maker’s defamation lawsuit over the network’s 2020 election broadcasts, striking a deal on the brink of a potentially embarrassing six-week trial.
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden paid $169,820 in federal and state income tax on a combined $579,514 in adjusted gross income, according to their annual tax returns.
Other News We’re Reading
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is poised to put up an aggressive fight in a showdown over $2 billion that Silicon Valley Bank’s former parent company and its bondholders say belongs to them.
To contact the reporter on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org