Domestic agenda looms as Biden departs NATO Summit

Abortion talks with governors are on Friday's White House agenda

President Joe Biden addresses media representatives during a press conference at the NATO summit at the Ifema congress centre in Madrid on Thursday. (Brendan SmialowskiAFP via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden addresses media representatives during a press conference at the NATO summit at the Ifema congress centre in Madrid on Thursday. (Brendan SmialowskiAFP via Getty Images)
Posted June 30, 2022 at 11:08am

As President Joe Biden prepared to depart Europe at the conclusion of the NATO Summit, he reiterated that Americans should be prepared to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes.”

That includes paying a premium at the gas pump because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden said, continuing to advocate for a 90-day holiday from federal consumer fuel taxes.

“Ultimately, the reason why gas prices are up is because of Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia. The reason the food prices exist is because of Russia not allowing grain to get out of Ukraine,” Biden said.

Asked by a reporter at a closing news conference in Madrid about world leaders saying the United States "was going backwards" after the Supreme Court’s decision last week to overturn abortion rights protections that had been previously guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, Biden said he had not heard that from NATO alliance members.

Biden described the behavior of the Supreme Court as “outrageous,” saying that the decision in the abortion case posed a challenge to the right to privacy itself.

“I can understand why the American people are frustrated because of what the Supreme Court did. I can understand why the American people are frustrated because of inflation. But inflation is higher in almost every other country, prices at the pump are higher in almost every other country,” he said. “We’re better positioned to deal with this than anyone, but we have way to a go.”

Biden said he wants to nullify the abortion ruling through legislation to codify privacy rights, and he said that, as with voting rights, he would support the Senate making a carve-out from the cloture rule that requires 60 votes to break a legislative filibuster.

“The first and foremost thing we should do is make it clear how outrageous this decision was, and how much it impacts not just on women’s right to choose, but on privacy generally,” Biden said.

The president was set to return to Washington Thursday evening, and he confirmed plans to meet on Friday with governors who are working to protect abortion access, a sign that pivoting back to the domestic agenda will not wait out through the July Fourth holiday weekend.

Biden’s European travels, which took him first to Germany for a gathering of the leaders of the G-7 democracies, was followed in Spain by a larger huddle with NATO member states and other allies, including Japan and South Korea.

The most consequential development out of either summit may prove to be the agreement between Turkey, Finland and Sweden that has led to the two Nordic countries being formally invited to join NATO. That puts the alliance on Russia’s doorstep in the north.

Biden said he would be announcing another $800 million tranche of weapons systems and other assistance to Ukraine, bolstering existing commitments. And this week, the Biden administration made commitments to expand the American force posture throughout Europe, including basing two additional Navy destroyers at Rota, Spain and a new permanent headquarters for the U.S. Army in Poland.

“The United States is rallying the world to stand with Ukraine. Allies and partners around the globe are making significant contributions,” Biden said.