Biden quickly regrets making news on abortion at press conference: 'I shouldn't have answered your question'

Biden said he didn't expect Congress would do 'much of anything' on abortion with Republicans likely to take House

President Joe Biden made news when he said he wasn't confident in codifying abortion rights legislation Monday, but he seemed to regret saying it, telling a reporter that he "shouldn't have answered" his question.

At the end of a solo press conference in Indonesia, after Biden took pre-planned questions from several reporters, NBC's Peter Alexander shouted out whether Americans could expect anything in Congress "as it relates to abortion rights."

"I don’t think they can expect much of anything other than we’re going to maintain our positions. I’m not going to get into more questions. I shouldn’t have even answered your question," Biden said.

Biden, who has done far fewer solo press conferences and interviews than his predecessors, is known for having a list of reporters to call on, but Alexander wasn't on it.

President Joe Biden's meeting Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, with Chinese President Xi Jinping was the first time the two have met since Biden became president.

President Joe Biden's meeting Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, with Chinese President Xi Jinping was the first time the two have met since Biden became president. (AP/Alex Brandon)

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Biden added Monday that there likely not enough votes to codify abortion rights as Republicans appear poised to take narrow control of the House of Representatives in this year's midterms.

"I don’t think there’s enough votes to codify unless something happens unusual in the House," Biden said. "I think we’re going to get very close in the House … but I don’t think we’re going to make it."

One of Biden's handlers then shouted down remaining questions as Biden left the podium.

Biden also praised the results of the midterms, where Democrats exceeded expectations by retaining control of the U.S. Senate and could even expand their majority if Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., wins his runoff next month against Republican Herschel Walker.

Democrats have credited their push on abortion rights in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade for their better-than-expected showing, and Biden pledged last month to ask Congress to codify abortion rights federally if they held their majorities. Voters across the country voted in favor of ballot initiatives protecting abortion access last week, from California to Montana to Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and President Joe Biden speak on a tarmac during Biden's visit to Syracuse on Oct. 27, 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and President Joe Biden speak on a tarmac during Biden's visit to Syracuse on Oct. 27, 2022. (White House Travel Pool)

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However, although there are still several races with outstanding vote counts, Republicans appear likely to squeak out a majority in the lower chamber.

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Biden took questions Monday after a high-stakes meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where the two discussed issues like Taiwan's status and human rights. According to the readout of their conversation, they did not discuss the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China.