Two Republican senators turned racism charges against the filibuster by Democrats against them, asking why Senate Democrats previously used the measure to block Sen. Tim Scott’s, R-S.C., police reform bill.
Democrat calls to end the use of the filibuster have grown since they have taken control of the majority in Congress, with the aim of pushing through a liberal legislative agenda.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., responded to the racism charges in floor speeches on Tuesday, pointing out that the Democrats had used the filibuster to kill Scott’s police reform bill, the Justice Act.
McConnell slammed the Democrats for the “fake history” they have been pushing in regards to the filibuster, and slammed the party for using “the filibuster to kill Sen. Tim Scott’s police reform and anti-lynching bill.”
“If our Democratic colleagues really believe what they’re saying, did they themselves use a racist tool against Sen. Scott’s police reform bill last year?” said McConnell. “Did they use a racist relic when they delayed the CARES Act or blocked legislation to protect unborn babies who can feel pain?”
“Or is our colleagues’ story that the filibuster was not an offensive relic as recently as last summer, but magically became an offensive relic the instant Democrats came to have a majority?” added the Republican Leader.
Sasse also took a dig at the Democrats for their racism charges against the filibuster during his speech on the Senate floor, pointing out they called the filibuster “an essential American institution that forced compromise.”
“But now that it can be occasionally used to resist a 51-50, strict majoritarian exercise in power, it’s supposedly exclusively a relic of slavery and a tool of Jim Crow,” Sasse said. “It’s nonsense, and the people saying it know that it’s nonsense.”
Sasse pointed out that the Democrats had used the filibuster last year and “weren’t racist” when they used it. He then called the racism charges used in calls to end the filibuster “BS that’s been focus-grouped.”
The Nebraska senator also gave a grave warning that ending the filibuster would “be the end of the Senate.”
“They used the same rule last year, and you weren’t racist when you used the rule last year,” said Sasse. “This is BS that’s been focus-grouped and particular bills are being used as an excuse to grab power that won’t just be for this bill – it’ll be forever.”
“It’ll be the end of the Senate,” warned Sasse.
Sasse then ripped the Democrats for the racism charge against the filibuster, asking them if the filibuster was “really a tool of Jim Crow when it was used against Tim Scott last year?”
“I don’t think so, and I don’t think any of you think so,” Sasse blasted Senate Democrats. “If somebody wants to come to the floor and repent of their racism for having used the filibuster last year, please do.”
“But it isn’t what was happening, so stop with the nonsense rhetoric that’s just for an MSNBC soundbite tonight,” added Sasse.
Scott, who is Black, described the blocking of the Justice Act last year as “race politics at its worst.”
The South Carolina senator said last year that the Democrats didn’t believe that the GOP “would produce a quality product.”
“What actually happened was that the Democrats did not believe that we would produce a quality product. Once we produced it and then president put icing on the cake [and] came up with executive order that even the liberal commentators said this was a real, meaningful executive order, I think they took a leap back because they don’t want [former President Donald Trump] to have a victory on another serious issue confronting the minority communities,” Scott commented.
“This is pure, pure race politics at its worst,” he added.
Last week, progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., claimed the filibuster was racist in an interview with Axios.
“The filibuster has deep roots in racism, and it should not be permitted to serve that function, or to create a veto for the minority,” Warren said. “In a democracy, it’s majority rules.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., attacked the filibuster last week, flipping on his previous position, and said on Monday that he was posing “a challenge to senators in both political parties” to prove that “under the current rules, with the filibuster requiring 60 votes, that we can actually produce something.”
Fox News’ Talia Kaplan contributed to this report.