Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said this week that if Senate Democrats revive the talking filibuster in an effort to weaken the rule’s power as a tool of endless obstruction, he would speak until he “fell over” to try to block passage of a major expansion of voting rights as well as legislation aiming to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.
“I would talk ’til I fell over to make sure that we don’t go to ballot harvesting and voting by mail without voter ID,” Graham said in an appearance on Fox News, referring to the For the People Act. “I would talk ’til I fell over to make sure that the Equality Act doesn’t become law.”
Progressives argued that Senate Democrats — a growing number of whom have voiced support for filibuster reform in recent days — should not hesitate to force Graham to follow through on his threat.
“Make him do it,” tweeted Jonathan Cohn, a Massachusetts-based editor and activist.
Brian Beutler, editor-in-chief of Crooked Media, added, “Change the filibuster rules so we can watch Lindsey Graham fall over.”
Watch Graham’s comments:
The fact that Graham holds the Senate seat formerly occupied by arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond — whose 24-hour filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1957 still stands as the longest in U.S. history — was not lost on observers as the South Carolina Republican promised to stand in the way of a Democratic effort to expand the franchise amid GOP-led suppression efforts nationwide.
“Graham[‘s] telling us he intends to honor the legacy of U.S. senators from South Carolina,” quipped New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie.
Graham’s comments came amid growing support at the top of the Democratic Party for weakening the filibuster, which in its current form requires virtually no effort to deploy and forces senators to obtain at least 60 votes to advance most bills — giving the minority party in a narrowly divided Senate significant power to tank legislation.
Earlier this week, as Common Dreams reported, President Joe Biden for the first time endorsed reforming the 60-vote rule by reviving the talking filibuster, which would require senators who wish to block legislation to hold the floor and speak continuously. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, has also indicated that he supports the idea.
Altering or outright abolishing the filibuster rule would require the support of the entire Senate Democratic caucus plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.
With momentum clearly on the side of diminishing the power of the filibuster — which is standing in the way of not just a major voting rights expansion, but also climate action, immigration reform, and more — Adam Jentleson of the Battle Born Collective said in an appearance on MSNBC Thursday that “it would be wise for senators to start thinking very seriously about whether or not we should just go ahead and do the reform now.”
“What are we waiting for?” asked Jentleson, who served as an aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “We don’t need any further proof that Republicans are going to obstruct.”