Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that Democrats changing the filibuster rules would be extortion and asked them not to do this to him.
Lindsey Graham falsely claims that the Senate getting rid of the filibuster would be extortion, and tells them not to do this to him. pic.twitter.com/f8X6f3FK8z
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) June 20, 2021
Graham said when asked on Fox News Sunday if Manchin would support changing the filibuster if his compromise voting rights bill fails:
I hope not because I was in Joe Manchin’s shoes. I like Joe Manchin, willing to work with him and infrastructure. We haven’t talked about police reform but I think that we can get there. I think Tim Scott and Cory Booker and the rest of us are very close to a police reform package that would be bipartisan, but when we had the House and the Senate and the White House under President Trump, I had a bunch of Democrats wanting to sign a letter with me protecting the filibuster.
Every one of those Democrats have fled for the hills, so I was beat on every day. Why don’t you give in and agree with President Trump to change the rules so we can get the Trump agenda through? I said I don’t think it would be good for the country. Never once did I go to Joe Manchin or any other Democrat and say if you don’t do some of the things I want I’m going to agree with Trump and change the rules.
I’m not going to be extorted here. I’m asking no more of my Democratic colleagues then I ask of myself. It was very unpleasant to be beat on every day by the president of the United States, President Trump, and his allies, to try to change the rules in the Senate to have their way. I said no because it’s bad for the Senate.
I hope these Democrats understand it’s bad for the Senate to change the rules and I don’t want to be extorted. I’ve got to give two or three things before they will not change the rules. I don’t like that at all. I didn’t do that to them and they wish they would not do this to me.
It is worse for the Senate to be a dysfunctional body that is controlled by the minority. There is no 60 vote threshold in the Constitution for the filibuster. The 60 vote rule was a privilege that Senate Republicans have weaponized. Neither party is going to have a 60 vote majority anytime soon, so it makes sense to change the rules, not necessarily to end the filibuster, but to make it less of a weapon.
Fifty-three votes appears to be the sweet spot in the current Senate. Democrats could change the rules to 53 votes which would mean that legislation would still need bipartisan support, but it would be a smaller hurdle to overcome. The Senate would function again.
If Manchin agrees to a filibuster carve out of a simple majority, Democrats will pass his voting rights compromise.
Giving democracy back to the people by making the Senate more representative is not extortion. It is not something that is being done to Sen. Graham but for the American people.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association