Rep. Byron Donalds rips Biden for invoking Jim Crow in filibuster debate: Irresponsibly injecting race
EXCLUSIVE: Republican Rep. Byron Donalds slammed President Biden on Friday for invoking Jim Crow during his first formal press conference, saying he is “irresponsibly injecting race” into the conversation.
Biden on Thursday, during his first press conference since taking office, referenced Jim Crow when defending the Democrats’ H.R. 1 voting reform bill and their efforts to get rid of the filibuster.
“In 2005, then-Sen. Biden said, ‘At its core, the filibuster is not about stopping a nominee or a bill; it is about compromise and moderation. That is why the Founders put unlimited debate in. That is what it is about, engendering compromise and moderation,'” Donalds, of Florida, told Fox News.
“Fast-forward to today, and now President Biden is irresponsibly injecting race and the travesty of Jim Crow to oppose the filibuster,” Donalds said. “Time after time, Democrats resort to the race card to shield them from having to answer for their hypocrisy and radical policies.”
“Jim Crow might not mean anything to President Biden, considering he joined segregationists in opposing bussing and eulogized known racists like Robert Byrd, but that dark stain on our republic is personal to me and many Black Americans like me,” Donalds said.
Donalds went on to call elections the “cornerstone of our constitutional republic.”
“Ensuring elections take place legally and adequately isn’t racist; it is righteous,” Donalds told Fox News, slamming H.R. 1, the For the People Act, as a “direct assault on our Constitution and the sanctity of our election system” while saying, if passed into law, it would “do irreparable harm to the future of our republic.”
“The Constitution outlines the responsibility of administering elections, and that power is for the states, not the federal government,” Donalds said. “Abolishing voter I.D. laws, ending signature verification, and putting into place taxpayer-funded campaigns is detrimental to every American’s right to a free and fair election—and the harmful rhetoric of President Biden cannot evade this fact.”
Donalds’ comments come after Biden invoked Jim Crow in speaking about the filibuster and about proposed reforms to voting laws in states across the country.
Biden said Thursday he “strongly support[s]” reforming the silent filibuster to a “talking” filibuster, in which senators who want to block legislation would have to hold the floor by talking endlessly. He cited statistics that there were just 58 motions to break a filibuster from 1917 to 1971, but just last yea, there were “five times that many.”
Biden said he agreed with former President Obama’s assessment that the filibuster was a “Jim Crow relic.” He expressed disgust for actions states are taking to clamp down on voting, alluding to new election reforms in Georgia that even ban giving away food and water to voters waiting in line to vote.
Biden was also asked whether he worries that Republicans in states across the country proposing legislation to curb voting access could cost Democrats control of Congress during the 2022 midterms.
“I’m convinced that we’ll be able to stop this, because it is the most pernicious thing—this makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle,” he said.
Biden added: “This is gigantic what they’re trying to do and it cannot be sustained.”
Biden was referring to Republican lawmakers in battleground states who are pushing to tighten voting restrictions on mail balloting and more in future elections.
Meanwhile, the House passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021 — which Democrats claim will expand voting rights and “clean up corruption” in politics.
According to Democrats, the bill would “improve access to the ballot box” by creating an automatic voter registration across the country and by ensuring that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full voting rights restored. The bill will also expand early voting and enhance absentee voting by simplifying voting by mail.
The legislation also “ensures that American elections are decided by American voters” by enhancing federal support for voting system security, specifically with regard to paper ballots, and also by increasing oversight of election system vendors and by requiring the “development of a national strategy to protect U.S. democratic institutions.”
The Senate is now considering S.1, which Democrats say is a critical civil rights bill needed to protect Americans’ right to vote in the face of GOP-controlled state legislatures that have introduced bills to tighten voting restrictions.
“Our move to equality, our move to fairness has been inexorable. But it didn’t happen on its own, it took mighty movements and decades of fraught” political fights, said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., making a rare committee appearance Wednesday. “I would like to ask my Republican colleagues, why are you so afraid of democracy?”
Schumer said S.1 would “combat all of these voter suppression efforts by restoring critical parts of the Voting Rights Act … make it easier — not harder — to vote by automatically registering American voters when they get a driver’s license … [and] limit dark money and corruption in our politics, and much more.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a podcast released Tuesday, argued Democrats are trying to use the levers of power to give them a long-term political advantage despite the fact they hold the slimmest of majorities in both the House and Senate.
McConnell spoke on the conservative “Ruthless” podcast, where he assailed Democrats over their planned bills on elections, H.R.1 and S.1; attempts to add new states to the Union; efforts to remove the legislative filibuster and more.
“They want to change the system to benefit themselves and they want to have instead of a referee they want the FEC to be a prosecutor,” McConnell, R-Ky., said, referencing HR.1 and S.1.
“So this is not about anything other than trying to help the Democrats win elections in perpetuity,” he added.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz, Tyler Olson and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.