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Lindsey Graham Labels Democrats’ Election Reform Bill ‘Biggest Power Grab’ In U.S. History Amid GOP Voting Restrictions Crusade

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Topline

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday defended a controversial bill passed by Georgia’s GOP this week restricting voting access, arguing that the sweeping election reform bill Democrats are in the midst of pushing through Congress is a much greater cause for concern.

Key Facts

Graham labeled H.R. 1—a House bill that aims to expand voting access, institute new ethics rules and once again task independent commissions with redistricting—“the biggest power grab in the history of the country” during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

The South Carolina senator accused Democrats of using the “racism card” to defend this bill, which has proven highly unpopular among Republicans in Congress who label it as an attempt to federalize elections, suggesting the party is more focused on advancing its “liberal agenda” than increasing access for all Americans, including typically disenfranchised communities, as they have argued. 

Graham, meanwhile, shrugged off criticism of Georgia’s new law, which critics have argued will disproportionately affect Black voters due to its new limitations on ballot drop boxes and added provisions for the use of absentee ballots. 

“H.R. 1 is sick,” said Graham, “not what they’re doing in Georgia,” though he did concede that the Georgia bill’s provision making it illegal to give food and water to voters waiting in line “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.” 

Chief Critic 

While Graham and other Republicans across the country rally for heightened voting restrictions, newly elected Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) lamented the bill passed in his state as “disconcerting” during a Sunday interview with CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We cannot allow politicians to silence the people,” said Warnock, adding that he was heartened to hear President Biden recognize the law as ‘Jim Crow in the 21st century.’” 

Crucial Quote 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden is “open” to having discussions with Republicans if they have ideas for improving H.R. 1. “If Republicans want to come to the table to have a discussion about what kind of package they can support to make voting more easy, easier, and more accessible, the president is absolutely open to having that discussion,” Psaki told Fox News Sunday. 

Key Background 

Voting access has emerged as the latest political battleground between the two parties. While Democrats have spent the months since the 2020 election attempting to codify the practices introduced due to Covid-19 increasing access, Republicans have introduced hundreds of bills geared toward restricting mail-in voting, bolstering ID requirements and decreasing voter registration opportunities. Experts have linked this “surge” in legislation to former President Trump’s baseless election fraud claims. 

What To Watch For 

The nearly 800-page H.R. 1 bill, otherwise known as the “For the People Act” faces a steep uphill battle in the Senate as Republicans have vowed to fight it forcefully. Democrats don’t have the option of leaning on reconciliation, as they did for the coronavirus package, so one of their only options may be eliminating part or all of the filibuster. Even if the bill does pass, Democrats would almost certainly be hit with lawsuits, as conservative groups have already labeled some of the bill’s provisions unconstitutional. 

Further Reading 

“Stacey Abrams-Founded Group Sues Georgia Over ‘Voter Suppression Bill’” (Forbes)

“Trump Says New Georgia Election Law Would’ve Prevented His Loss In The State” (Forbes)

“Manchin Warns Democrats’ Election Reform Bill Could Cause Another Jan. 6” (Forbes)

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