Graham calls voting rights ‘biggest power grab’ in US history

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Lindsey Graham told Fox News that he’s not supportive of Joe Manchin’s voting reform compromise.  (Fox News)
Lindsey Graham told Fox News that he’s not supportive of Joe Manchin’s voting reform compromise. (Fox News)

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News Sunday that the election reform bill pushed by Democrats aimed at expanding voting accessibility is “the biggest power grab in the history of the country”.

Mr Graham added that he’s also not in support of West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s compromise offer of a smaller package of voting rights expansions.

Mr Manchin’s proposal would make election day a national holiday, ensure at least 15 days of early voting across the country, force states to send absentee ballots to eligible voters, and put an end to partisan gerrymandering.

“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 – they’re trying to fix a problem most Republicans have a different view of,” Mr Graham told host Chris Wallace.

“Now, Manchin would say, ‘Look, a lot of the stuff you just objected to is not in my bill,’” Mr Wallace responded. “His is a stripped-down version.”

“If Republicans vote, as it appears you’re going to, to kill the Manchin version of voting rights, you’ve already ... voted to kill the bipartisan January 6th commission looking into the insurrection at the Capitol, do you run the risk that Manchin and a couple of other moderate senators say, ‘Look, bipartisanship isn’t working and you know what? We’re not going to kill the filibuster but we’re going to reduce the number of votes you need to stop a debate from 60 to 55?’ Do you run that risk?”

“I hope not,” Mr Graham replied.

“I like 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 the state legislators,” Mr Graham said during the interview.

Kentucky Republican and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell previously told reporters that his caucus is not onboard with Mr Manchin’s pitch.

“I would make this observation about the revised version ... All Republicans, I think, will oppose that as well if that were to be what surfaced on the floor,” he said.

This means that the election bill will probably fail in an upcoming procedural vote as the Republicans seem likely to stick together and be able to filibuster the bill.

Mr Graham claimed that he protected the filibuster when Democrats were in the minority.

“When we had the Senate, the House, and the White House under President Trump, I had a bunch of Democrats wanting to sign a letter with me protecting the filibuster,” Mr Graham said.

“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 would be good for the country.”

“I’m not going to be extorted here,” he added. “I’m asking no more of my Democrat 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,” Mr Graham said.

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