Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) took to Sunday cable news programs to argue that Democrats are pulling the “race card” amid their growing calls to reform the filibuster, following President Biden’s Jim Crow comparisons regarding the Senate procedure and Georgia’s new overhaul of its election rules.
Last week, Biden likened the new Georgia voting law — which includes provisions heightening ID requirements for absentee voting, mandates that will reduce early in-person voting in some places, and banning the distribution of food and most beverages to voters waiting in line — to “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.” The President also told reporters during his first solo press conference last week that he agrees with former President Obama that the filibuster “was a relic of the Jim Crow era.”
Both the Democrat-led “For the People Act” and the “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” which are aimed at expanding voting access, are unlikely to pass in the currently 50-50 Senate as long as the filibuster rules remain in place.
During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked point-blank whether the filibuster is “racist” or “wrong” amid some Democrats urging Biden to put pressure on eliminating the filibuster in order to pass legislation to protect voting rights. Psaki was subsequently pressed on Biden’s past remarks during his time in the Senate that defended the filibuster as well as the President’s recent comments on the Senate procedure.
Psaki reiterated Biden’s remarks during his first formal press conference on Thursday, when the President said that the filibuster was being “abused in a gigantic way” and suggested he “strongly” supports moving back to its original process of requiring senators to hold the floor without taking a break if they want to block legislation.
“He’s not eager to move with destroying the filibuster,” Psaki said. “He’s eager to get things done for the American people, but he’s also not going to stand by and prevent forward moving progress from happening.”
While Psaki was questioned on whether the filibuster is “racist” or “wrong,” Graham and Toomey attempted to defend the Senate procedure on Sunday by accusing Democrats of pulling the “race card.”
Graham, who also appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” accused Biden of playing the “race card” when the President decried the Georgia’s new overhaul of its election rules in a blistering statement last week. Biden argued that Republican state lawmakers rushed “through an un-American law to deny people the right to vote.”
“What’s sick is for the President of the United States to play the race card continuously in such a hypocritical way,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Graham continued accusing Democrats of playing “the race card” when he took aim at Biden over the President’s support for reforming the filibuster, and criticized Democrats’ HR1 (also known as the “For the People Act”) as being the biggest “power grab” in US history.
“Every time a Republican does anything, we’re racist,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.” “They use the racism card to advance a liberal agenda, and we’re tired of it.”
Toomey offered a similar take when defending the filibuster during an interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Toomey argued that Democratic lawmakers are making a “shameful attempt” to “really ruin” what he believes to be “what remains of the functioning” of the upper chamber.
“You know, two years ago, the Democrats pretty much universally supported keeping the filibuster. Barack Obama was in favor of the filibuster,” Toomey said. “Now, when the different party is in control and suddenly it’s become a racist tool. How ridiculous.”
Later in the interview, Toomey dismissed the notion that the new Georgia voting law constitutes “voter suppression,” before going on to tie Democrats’ criticism of the battleground state’s new voting legislation to their calls to reform the filibuster. Toomey doubled down on his argument that Republicans are unfairly being painted as “racists.”
“This has been a false narrative entirely, and I’m afraid it’s all about trying to get rid of the filibuster,” Toomey said, referring to the new Georgia voting law. “We’re not going to be cowed by being called racist over policy that has nothing to do with race.”