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Republican-led state legislatures are increasingly road-testing restrictive abortion rules that fall just short of total bans, to see how far they can limit reproductive health care without generating political backlash.
States such as Florida and Georgia have passed laws banning abortions after six weeks, before many people realize they are pregnant. Others are trying out slightly longer gestational limits. North Carolina’s Senate Republicans earlier this month advanced a bill that would restrict abortion after 12 weeks, while Arizona has a 15-week ban in effect.
After years of hewing to a strong anti-abortion platform, Republicans are treading more carefully as they run into a different political reality since the end of Roe. When given the choice at the ballot box in the last year, voters have turned out to support abortion protections and delivered a series of losses to Republicans in key political contests where reproductive health was an issue.
While the majority of the Republican base supports extreme restrictions and bans, a January Gallup poll of Americans showed that 17% want less strict abortion laws, an increase from just 2% in 2021. Among Independents, 44% want less strict laws, up from less than 20% before Roe was overturned.
“In these purple states, we’re going to see a drip drip — incremental changes that will satisfy the base, but not cause a backlash,” said Alex Patton, a Republican strategist and pollster. Ultimately, laws that pass without much pushback could not only inform other state legislation but offer a road-map for a national strategy, which has yet to emerge among federal lawmakers.
Republican hopefuls for the 2024 election have floated divergent policies. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to run, signed the bill restricting abortions after six weeks. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for a “national consensus,” though she is yet to detail what she believes that consensus should be. Haley also urged her party to acknowledge the limits of federal action on the abortion debate.
Former President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has blamed the party’s disappointing midterm election results on GOP candidates’ hardline on abortion, particularly those who are against exceptions for rape or incest. Kelsey Butler has more on what’s at stake.
- At 4 p.m., President Joe Biden gives a speech at the White House on conservation actions his administration has taken.
- At 1 p.m., White House Karine Jean-Pierre and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas give a press briefing.
- The House meets at 10 a.m. to debate and vote on a border security package, unemployment fraud measure, and narcotics research bill. Read more about the border bill here.
- The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to vote on two GOP measures aiming to block Biden administration endangered species policies, as well as a judicial nominee.
Happening in Congress
The White House has indicated to congressional negotiators that the Inflation Reduction Act is off the table in the debt ceiling talks, CNN reports.
Senate Republicans balked at the idea of closing a tax loophole for crypto investors in ongoing debt limit and budget talks after Biden floated the proposal.
Key senators are grappling with the best way to lower the cost of insulin for Americans, including a potential cap on what people with private insurance pay out of pocket for the medication and proposals to improve generic competition.
Recurring problems with federal IT systems will continue to put citizens and national security at risk without intervention from Congress, government, and the private sector, witnesses said at a cybersecurity hearing Wednesday.
Politics, Probes and 2024
Legislators in Ohio agreed Wednesday to ask voters to make it harder to change the state constitution, and to do it in a hurry, before a potential abortion rights amendment goes on the ballot.
Trump refused to concede his 2020 electoral loss in his first interview on CNN since 2016, maintaining a stance that Republicans say risks their efforts to retake the White House.
- Also during the CNN Town Hall, the former president urged Republicans to either extract concessions from Biden to reduce spending or push the US into its first-ever default. Read more
What Else We’re Reading
The Biden administration announced a plan today to adopt new building energy standards for homes built and financed by the federal government, a move that officials said will result in energy savings of more than 35% for families.
The FTC is expected to vote next April on the final version of its proposal to ban noncompete agreements in employment contracts, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The end of the US Covid-19 public health emergency also means that the government will soon no longer offer free tests to households by mail.
The Biden administration is trying to make it hard for China to say no to engagement by seeking a flurry of meetings and phone calls, a strategy aimed at easing tensions and painting President Xi Jinping as recalcitrant if he refuses.
The biggest US business lobby group urged Washington to take “targeted and responsible steps” to restrict Chinese access to sensitive technologies that could undermine national security, yet cautioned not to see all interactions as a threat.
Businesses in China received almost one third of World Bank-funded international contracts, in dollar terms, over the past decade, more than 10 times the value of those awarded to US companies, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Washington intends to crack down on Russia’s ability to skirt sanctions imposed by the US and allies after its invasion of Ukraine.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams temporarily suspended some of the rules that require the city to shelter asylum seekers as a surge in migrants strains resources.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at firstname.lastname@example.org