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Lindsey Graham Comes Out Strong Against Democrats: ‘I Will Not Be Extorted’

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham took aim at Democrats on Sunday over their strategy of trying to change the Senate rules whenever they can’t get what they want through legitimate means. Unable to acquire the necessary votes to pass progressive legislation, Democrats are currently attempting to nullify the long-standing filibuster rule in order to bulldoze their bills through without Republican support.

Speaking to Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” about Democrat efforts to change the threshold for filibuster or remove it altogether, Graham stated plainly: “I’m not going to be extorted.”

Wallace started the conversation with a question pertaining to Democrat West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s efforts to find a middle ground between the Democrats and Republicans on the so-called “voting rights bill” that would trim some of the more drastic measures proposed by the Democrats.

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“It’s just a power grab by the democratic party in every area of our lives,” said Graham.

“So, let me move on to another area because Senator Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader is going to bring up a voting rights bill this week and the centrist moderate, always, maybe the most powerful man in the Senate, Joe Manchin is going to offer his stripped down version,” said Wallace. “I’ll have that bill this week. And I want to put up the main elements of the Manchin proposal. Make election day a holiday. Mandate at least 15 days of early voting. Ban partisan gerrymandering and use computer models and require a voter ID. Now Senator Manchin took out a lot of the basic Senate plans.”

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He asked: “One that for the people act like public financing of congressional elections. Can you go with the Manchin stripped down version? And if not?”

Graham responded:

Well, one, I liked Joe Manchin a lot, but we had the largest turnout in the history of the United States and states are in charge of voting in America. So I don’t like the idea of taking the power to redistrict away from state legislators.

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You’re having people move from blue states to red states. Under this proposal, you would have some kind of commission, a redraw of the new districts and I don’t like that. I want states where people are moving to have control over how to allocate new congressional seats. So as much as I like Joe Manchin the answer would be no.

In my view, SR-1 is the biggest power grab in the history of the country. It mandates ballot harvesting, no voter ID. It does away with the states being able to redistrict when you have population shifts. It’s just a bad idea. And it’s a problem that most Republicans are not going to sign up. They’re trying to fix a problem most Republicans have a different view of.

In response, Wallace asked Graham if he would be running the risk of alienating Manchin and other moderate Democrats if he chooses to not to go along with Manchin, thereby provoking them into supporting the Democrat effort to kill the filibuster.

I hope not because I was in Joe Manchin’s shoes. I like Joe Manchin. I’m willing to work with him on infrastructure. We’re very close on police reform. You haven’t talked about police reform, but I think we can get there. I think Tim Scott and Corey Booker and the rest of us are very close to a police reform package. That will 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 had fled for the hills.

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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, no, I don’t think it’d 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 to change the rules?

I’m not going to be extorted here. I’m asking no more of my Democratic colleagues than 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. Uh, not change the rules. I don’t like that at all. I didn’t do that to them and I wish they would not do this to me.”

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