GOP lawmakers caught on video telling activists to thank Manchin and Sinema for not blowing up the filibuster: 'Without that, we would be dead meat'

GOP lawmakers caught on video telling activists to thank Manchin and Sinema for not blowing up the filibuster: 'Without that, we would be dead meat'
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Rep. Andy Biggs speaking into a microphone at a hearing.
Rep. Andy Biggs. Patrick Semansky/Pool via Reuters
  • GOP congressmen told activists to thank Sens. Manchin and Sinema for holding firm on the filibuster.

  • "Without that, we would be dead meat, and this thing would be done," a GOP congressman said.

  • The filibuster has emerged as a barrier to a major chunk of Biden's agenda.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Several Republican lawmakers were secretly filmed imploring conservative activists to flood a pair of centrist Democrats with messages of gratitude for holding firm on the filibuster, a 60-vote threshold that most bills need to clear the Senate.

The Democratic activist Lauren Windsor posted the video on Friday, two days after posting another one showing a GOP congressman calling for "18 more months of chaos" to jam Democrats. Both sets of remarks were made on June 29 at a Patriot Voices event attended by a large group of conservatives in Washington, DC.

In the newest video, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona could be heard saying Democrats were "pushing as far as they can" to enact President Joe Biden's agenda.

"Fortunately for us, the filibuster's still in effect in the Senate. Without that, we would be dead meat, and this thing would be done," he said. "Then we'd be having a little bit more frantic discussion than we're having today."

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"But thank goodness for Sinema and Joe Manchin," he said, referring to Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have resisted a mounting chorus of Democratic calls to abolish the filibuster.

Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida could then be heard urging activists to call the pair of centrist Democrats and thank them for refusing to blow up the filibuster.

"All of you in this room, people at home on Zoom, let me tell you right now, if you want to do one thing to keep the republic afloat, call Joe Manchin's office, call Kyrsten Sinema's office," he said.

Donald's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Biggs's office declined to comment on the record. Manchin or Sinema's offices both didn't respond to a request for comment on Friday.

The filibuster has emerged as a barrier to a substantial chunk of Biden's agenda on the economy, voting rights, policing reform, and immigration. Given a Democratic majority that relies on a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, many in the party have called to get rid of it so that they can pass legislation without Republicans.

But Manchin and Sinema have dug in on preserving it. "There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster," Manchin wrote in a Washington Post op-ed article in April.

Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator and 2016 GOP primary candidate who attended the event, acknowledged the difficulty Republicans face in rolling back social programs once they're in place - possibly a reference to their failed attempt to scrap the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and to others proposing cuts to safety-net programs like Medicare and Social Security.

"It's a lot easier to pass giveaways than it is to take them away. And everybody thinks, 'Oh, well, you know, we'll just take them away,'" he said in the video. "No, we won't! No, we won't."

Late on Friday, Santorum posted a statement on the Patriot Voices website about the video. "While it was officially off-the-record, we always knew bloggers would probably be listening but wanted to create a space where we could have a conversation about important issues," he said.

He went on: "We also are proud to have mentioned several Democratic Senators because we still believe that we should work together from time-to-time. Our country is worth the bipartisan effort.'

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