Abortion rights and gun control join the wish list of executive orders that midterm-wary Democrats want Biden to issue ASAP

·4 min read
US President Joe Biden, his lips pursed as he looks to left, holds a press conference about Covid-19 vaccines for children in the Roosevelt Room of the White House June 21, 2022 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden speaks about Covid-19 vaccines for children in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on June 21, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Progressive Democrats are adding to the executive orders they want Biden to jump on.

  • Doing something on abortion rights and gun violence are the latest requests.

  • The administration has only completed one-tenth of an existing congressional wish list.

Demands for swift action from President Joe Biden on issues Congress can't seem to work out itself are only getting bolder, as congressional Democrats pile preserving abortion rights and eradicating mass shootings onto a laundry list of executive orders the administration has barely chipped away at.

Calls for the president to pinch-hit on policy changes have intensified as the conservative wing of the Supreme Court has become more vocal — which the GOP-appointed justices recently did by overturning Roe v. Wade and upending five decades of legal precedent.

The fact that executive orders only serve as political band-aids that an opposing administration could just as easily rip off hasn't stopped Capitol Hill lawmakers from prodding Biden to do something about stalled-out proposals ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Biden's sagging approval ratings don't bode well for Democrats looking to fend off losing control of the House, Senate, or both this November if Republicans flip the handful of seats they need to regain power.

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus highlighted nearly five dozen executive actions Biden could've pushed through back in March, a wish list that includes languishing priorities like wiping out overwhelming student loan debt, slashing prescription drug costs, and bolstering immigration laws.

Longstanding student debt relief advocate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Tuesday challenged Biden to go the clean slate route.

"Cancelling student debt would help close the racial wealth gap and give millions of hardworking Americans a shot at owning their first homes, starting their own businesses, and building a stronger economic future. Let's do this, @POTUS," Warren posted on Twitter.

While she and others like Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota have repeatedly urged Biden to forgive up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower, the Roe reversal stoked Warren's activist nature.

Once the official ruling became public, Warren and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pressed Biden to look into allowing abortions on federally owned lands within states racing to outlaw the procedure. "There is much we can do at the federal level administratively, under current law," Warren told The Boston Globe.

Warren also signed onto a pair of letters (on June 10 and June 28) co-authored by Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland pleading with Biden to get out in front of the abortion rights fight, advice the "rudderless, aimless, and hopeless" administration clearly didn't heed.

US President Joe Biden, sitting with his hands clasped in front of him, awaits the beginning of a virtual Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate at the South Court Auditorium at Eisenhower Executive Office Building June 17, 2022 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden waits for the beginning of a virtual Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate at the South Court Auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on June 17, 2022 in Washington, DC.Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin recently also saw fit to add more stringent gun control to Biden's already-full plate. In the lead up to final passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act — a legislative compromise Biden signed into law on June 25 — Pocan called on the president to do whatever he can to stop Americans from routinely mowing each other down.

"We just can't have another mass shooting and do nothing," Pocan, co-sponsor of a proposed assault weapons ban that's failed to gain traction in the Democrat-run House of Representatives, told Wisconsin Public Radio in late May.

Pocan declined to comment on what Biden should do about guns following a July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.

Meanwhile, a tracker run by left-leaning think tank Data for Progress shows that the Biden administration has so far knocked out five of the 55 items originally pitched by progressive caucus members. The incremental changes include tweaks to policing reform (three), expansion of Affordable Care Act coverage (one), and climate-related financial disclosures (one).

A House Democratic aide told Insider that caucus members stand behind the other 52 requests, prioritizing pocketbook issues like "cancelling student debt and lowering prescription drug costs."

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