GOP Rep. Burgess Owens says it’s ‘an insult’ to compare the new Georgia voting law to Jim Crow

Burgess Owens
Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill on April 20, 2021.

  • GOP Rep. Burgess Owens has criticized comparisons of the Georgia voting law to Jim Crow.
  • “This is the type of fear-mongering I expected in the 1960s, not today,” he said.
  • Democrats contend that the law was devised to target voter turnout among Black voters.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah on Tuesday blasted Democratic-led criticism of the new Georgia voting law, rejecting comparisons of the legislation to the Jim Crow South as “absolutely outrageous.”

Owens, a conservative Black freshman congressman who grew up in segregation-era Florida, testified during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing called “Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote.” He zeroed in on the Georgia law’s bolstered photo identification requirements for absentee balloting.

The congressman called out “the left” for their opposition to the measure and rejected the law being linked to racially-driven restrictions from the past.

“To call this Jim Crow 2021 is an insult,” he said. “What I find extremely offensive is the narrative from the left that Black people are not smart enough, not educated enough, not desirous enough of education to do what every other culture and race does in this country: get an ID.”

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chairman of the committee, stressed that although 1960s-era civil rights legislation legally barred racist practices such as literacy tests, the GOP-driven push to enact restrictive voting measures has spread throughout the country this year.

“These new pieces of legislation may not involve literacy tests, counting the number of jelly beans in a jar like the original Jim Crow, but make no mistake, they are a deliberate effort to suppress voters of color,” he said.

“The voters who did vote in the last election were not their voters,” Durbin said of the GOP-led voting restrictions in typically red states. “That is fundamentally un-American.”

Read more: Prosecuting Trump does not look like a DOJ priority under Biden’s attorney general. But watch Georgia and New York.

After years of Republican ascendancy in Georgia, President Joe Biden won the state’s 16 electoral votes last year, defeating former President Donald Trump.

In January 2021, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were both elected to the Senate, defeating GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively.

The losses stunned Republicans, with Trump leading a monthslong pressure campaign to overturn the statewide results. The former president repeatedly alleged voter fraud and chided GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for not aiding his cause to win the state.

Biden has derided the Georgia law as “Jim Crow in the 21st century” and a “blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience.”

The law, also known as the Election Integrity Act of 2021 or SB 202, tightens election rules in the state by limiting drop boxes, shortening the time for runoff elections from nine weeks to four weeks, and banning water and food from being distributed by volunteers to voters waiting in line, among other measures.

Owens stressed that it was “disgusting and offensive” to compare segregation-era violence to states asking voters to produce valid photo identification.

“This is the type of fear-mongering I expected in the 1960s, not today,” he said.

The congressman also chided Biden for connecting the Georgia law to Jim Crow.

“With all due respect, Mr. President, you know better,” he said. “For someone who has actually experienced Jim Crow laws, I’d like to set the record straight on the myth of the recently passed Georgia state law and why any comparison between this law and Jim Crow is absolutely outrageous.”

In detailing the conditions of the Jim Crow South, Owens recounted how he demonstrated outside of a segregated theater as a preteen and recalled receiving used textbooks from all-white schools.

“Jim Crow that I grew up in in the South was initiated by the Democratic Party,” he said. “The soft bigotry of low expectations now projected on Black Americans … is being done by the Democratic Party.”

Sen. Warnock, who is up for reelection for a full term next year, had a different perspective, telling the committee that the GOP pushed back against the robust voter turnout in Georgia “not in celebration but with retaliation.”

“This is a full-fledged assault on voting rights unlike anything we have seen since the era of Jim Crow,” he said.

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Rep. Jeffries slams newly elected Rep. Owens for voting to overturn the 2020 election results

Hakeem Jeffries
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York questions US Attorney General William Barr during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on July 28, 2020.

  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries slammed newly elected Rep. Burgess Owens for urging Democrats to practice patriotism.
  • Owens urged Democrats on Friday to recite the pledge to begin the House Judiciary Committee session. 
  • Jeffries said Owens couldn’t lecture about patriotism because he had voted to overturn the 2020 election results.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York rebuked newly elected Rep. Burgess Owens on Friday for “lecturing” Democrats on patriotism, even as Owens voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Former Vice President Joe Biden won the election in November. But in the weeks that followed the election, numerous Republican lawmakers tried to persuade Americans without evidence that the results were not valid.

Owens, a freshman representative who only recently began his first House term, was one of those lawmakers. He’s a pro-Trump lawmaker from Utah who’s falsely said there’s “no question” Trump was re-elected to a second term.

During an organizing meeting with the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, Owens made an argument in favor of a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Owens and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz have previously urged Democrats to recite the pledge before the start of every House Judiciary Committee meeting. Rep. Jerry Nadler, who chairs the committee, denied the request because the House already begins each day in session with the pledge.

“It’s not about words. It’s about actions,” Owens said on Friday during his argument in favor of a second recitation.

Jeffries rebuked Owens in his response, suggesting he had little standing to preach to Democrats about being patriotic because Owens voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election when there was no legitimate reason to do so.

“I was hoping to engage with the new distinguished gentleman from Utah, as he sat here lecturing us about patriotism,” Jeffries said. “And I was just going to ask him how he voted after a violent mob attacked the Capitol to hunt down members of Congress, to hang [former Vice President] Mike Pence, to assassinate [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, to stop us from undertaking our constitutional responsibilities as part of the peaceful transfer of power.”

Owens was one of the lawmakers who voted to challenge the election results in Pennsylvania, where Biden secured 20 electoral votes after defeating Trump and turning the state blue.

“More than 100 officers seriously injured, brain injuries, head trauma,” Jeffries said. “One officer lost three fingers. Another officer, because of an assault on him, is likely to be blind. Officer [Brian] Sicknick died. Blood was spilled. Two other officers are no longer with us.” 

“And you want to sit here and lecture us about patriotism?” Jeffries asked. “When you voted to object to an election that you know Joe Biden won, and perpetrated the big lie?”

“But the notion of you coming here lecturing us on your first day before this committee, it’s not about words it’s about actions?” Jeffries said. “You know what? Explain your actions on January 7th. When you supported an insurrection.”

The January 6 riot left at least five people, including one police officer, dead. Members of the Proud Boys, which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, were reportedly present.

Organizers were emboldened by President Donald Trump’s urges to protest the results of the 2020 election with him, despite Biden’s election victory. While members of Congress were meeting inside the Capitol building day to certify the results, supporters organized an attempted coup and stormed the Capitol building.

Upon news that the riot breached the Capitol building, lawmakers began to shelter in place and many evacuated.

One quick-thinking Senate aide secured the boxes containing the electoral votes, rescuing them from possible damage. The vote to certify President-elect Joe Biden went on as planned hours after the riot began.

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GOP Congressman-elect Burgess Owens says ‘there’s no question’ that Trump was reelected to a second term

Burgess Owens
Congressman-elect Burgess Owens was a featured speaker at the 2020 Republican National Convention.

  • GOP Congressman-elect Burgess Owens of Utah on Thursday said that he will support the challenge to President-elect Joe Biden’s presidential victory on the House floor and contended that there was “no question” that President Donald Trump was reelected to a second term.
  • In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Owens said that his goal was “to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to take this to every legal end we have.”
  • Owens defeated first-term Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams in one of the closest Congressional races in the country.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, GOP Congressman-elect Burgess Owens of Utah on Thursday said that he will support the challenge to President-elect Joe Biden’s presidential victory on the House floor and contended that there was “no question” that President Donald Trump was reelected to a second term.

Owens, a strong Trump supporter and a featured speaker at the 2020 Republican National Convention, said that he believes Trump was victorious in the election, despite Biden securing 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232 electoral votes and winning over 7 million more votes than the president.

“There’s no question in my mind that I think he won,” Owens said.

Read more: Secret Service experts are speculating in group chats about how Trump might be hauled out of the White House if he won’t budge on Inauguration Day

His comments come as Congress is set to certify the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, with many GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Josh Hawley, opting to challenge the election results.

Owens, a former NFL player, compared the Republican effort to his days playing football.

“In 10 years in the NFL, I played in a lot of losing games,” he said. “If you leave everything on the field and you’ve done everything you can and there’s nothing left, then it’s a winning game regardless of what the score might be.”

Owens said that contesting the Electoral College was “the right thing to do” because “seventy-plus percent of conservatives say that this [election] is not fair” and their views deserve to be heard, according to the Tribune.

The congressman-elect claimed that 42,000 votes were incorrectly added to the final vote total in Nevada, an allegation that state officials have firmly denied.

Owens also said that after living in Pennsylvania, “the Democratic Party has done things” in the state that are not “fair,” but didn’t provide any solid evidence of any electoral wrongdoing in the 2020 presidential election.

“My goal basically is just to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to take this to every legal end we have,” he added. “And once the official count is done, then we’ll respect whoever the president is.”

Since November, the Trump legal team has contested the election across the country, unleashing an array of high-profile but overwhelmingly unsuccessful lawsuits to overturn the election results.

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