GOP lawmakers caught on video telling activists to thank Manchin and Sinema for not blowing up the filibuster: ‘Without that we would be dead meat’

andy biggs
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), votes no on the first article of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2019.

  • GOP congressmen were caught on tape telling activists to thank Manchin and Sinema for holding firm on the filibuster.
  • “Without that we would be dead meat and this thing would be done,” a GOP congressman said.
  • The filibuster has emerged as a barrier to a major chunk of Biden’s agenda.
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Several Republican lawmakers were secretly filmed imploring conservative activists to flood a pair of centrist Democrats with messages of gratitude for holding firm on the filibuster, a 60-vote threshold that most bills need to clear the Senate.

It’s the latest video posted by Democratic activist Lauren Windsor, only days after posting another one showing a GOP congressman calling for “18 months of chaos” to jam Democrats. Both sets of remarks were made at a June 29 Patriot Voices event attended by a large group of conservatives.

In the newest video, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona said Democrats were “pushing as hard as they can” to enact President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“Fortunately for us, the filibuster’s still in effect in the Senate. Without that we would be dead meat and this thing would be done,” he said in the video. “Then we’d be having a little more frantic discussion than we’d be having today.”

He went on: “But thank goodness for Sinema and Joe Manchin,” referring to Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have resisted a mounting chorus of Democratic calls to abolish the filibuster.

Then Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida urged activists in attendance to call the pair of centrist Democrats and thank them for refusing to blow up the filibuster.

“All of you in this room, people at home on Zoom, let me tell you right now, if you want to do one thing to keep the republic afloat, call Joe Manchin’s office, call Kyrsten Sinema’s office,” he said.

Donald’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Biggs’s office declined to comment on the record.

The filibuster has emerged as a barrier to a substantial chunk of Biden’s agenda on the economy, voting rights, policing reform, and immigration. Given Democrats’ 50-50 majority that relies on a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, many in the party are calling to get rid of it so they can pass legislation without Republicans.

But Manchin and Sinema have dug in on preserving it. “There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” Manchin wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in April.

Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator and 2016 GOP primary candidate, also attended the event. He acknowledged the difficulty Republicans face rolling back social programs once they’re in place – a possible reference to their failed attempt to scrap the Affordable Care Act under President Donald Trump in 2017, and others proposing cuts to safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security.

“It’s a lot easier to pass giveaways than to take them away. And everybody thinks, ‘Oh, well you know, we’ll just take them away,'” he said in the video. “No we won’t! No we won’t.”

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GOP Rep. Byron Donalds says that he’s being blocked from joining the Congressional Black Caucus because of his conservative views

Byron Donalds
Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida.

  • GOP Rep. Byron Donalds says that he’s being blocked from joining the Congressional Black Caucus.
  • Donalds and his office have engaged with the CBC about joining the organization to no avail.
  • “My gut reaction is disappointment,” the congressman told CBS affiliate WINK-TV.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, a Black conservative, on Thursday said that he was being snubbed by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

Donalds and his staff have contacted CBC members on multiple occasions since the congressman was first sworn into office in January, according to spokesman Harrison Fields, but their efforts were rebuffed.

“Since starting in Congress, our office and the congressman have engaged with several CBC members expressing his interest in joining, but all we’ve got is the cold shoulder,” Fields said. “The sad reality is although the congressman and those in the CBC share the same race, the (R) behind his name disqualifies him from membership today.”

On Wednesday, BuzzFeed News reported that a source with knowledge of the CBC’s thinking indicated that the organization is blocking Donalds’ membership.

In a response issued on Wednesday, a CBC spokesperson did not directly address the allegation that Donalds was being prevented from joining the organization, but raised the issue of members sharing the organization’s “values.”

“The Congressional Black Caucus remains committed to fighting for issues that support Black communities, including the police accountability bill, protecting voting rights, and a jobs bill that helps our communities,” the spokesperson said. “We will work with those who share our values and priorities for the constituents we serve.”

According to BuzzFeed, Donalds has reached out to at least three CBC members in seeking to join the organization.

He said that he was committed to crafting bipartisan legislation and also pointed out that he was a member of the Black caucus as a lawmaker in Florida’s House of Representatives.

“My gut reaction is disappointment,” the congressman told the Southwest Florida CBS affiliate WINK-TV. “I understand that there are going to be issues we’re not going to agree on. But iron sharpens iron. And I think having those discussions are important. And it’s unfortunate that it appears those aren’t going to happen.”

Read more: 15 Senate Republicans are up for reelection in 2022. But Rick Scott – the man in charge of helping them win – has instead turned a key fundraising tool into Trump’s megaphone.

Donalds is one of two House Republicans currently in office, along with GOP Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah, who declined to join the CBC.

While the CBC has been overwhelmingly composed of Democrats since its founding in 1971, it has had Black Republican members in the past, including former Reps. Gary Franks of Connecticut, Allen West of Florida, and Mia Love of Utah, and former Del. Melvin Herbert Evans of the US Virgin Islands.

During a CNN interview on Thursday, Donalds said that he hadn’t “heard much from the CBC” in recent months regarding his pending membership.

“I have a perspective being a 42-year-old Black man who’s come up in America after a lot of the battles through the civil rights movement that I think would actually be helpful and a helpful perspective to the CBC,” he said. “Whether they want to take advantage of that is really up to them.”

In January, Donalds voted against certifying the results of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory over former President Donald Trump, citing election changes made in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I refuse to turn a blind eye to the fact that several states, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, neglected the oath of their constitution and the United States Constitution by their failure to follow their election laws,” he said at the time.

When the congressman was pressed about whether his support of Trump made him incompatible with the mission of the CBC, Donalds disputed the notion and emphasized his individual record.

“Whatever the president said in the past has nothing to do with this discussion at all,” he said. “As a black man in America, I’m allowed to have my own thoughts on who I choose to support and who I choose not to support.”

He added: “This is whether the ideology of somebody who is conservative is welcome in the Congressional Black Caucus. It’s really that simple.”

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A group of Black Republicans are pressing the National Museum of African American History to properly ‘honor’ Clarence Thomas

Clarence Thomas
Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.

  • A group of Black Republicans wants a Smithsonian museum to better reflect the legacy of Clarence Thomas.
  • The push was led by freshman GOP Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida.
  • “Black History transcends political correctness and partisanship,” Donalds wrote.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A group of Black Republicans, led by freshman GOP Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, have asked the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to “honor” Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas by updating an exhibit that they say currently “falls short” in reflecting his legacy.

The letter was reported by Fox News and also signed by figures including Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the sole Black Republican in the upper chamber, along with Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah and Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James, among others.

“This museum is a national treasure for our nation’s fabric – this is especially true for me as a Black American and Republican,” Donalds wrote. “Black History transcends political correctness and partisanship. Overall, the NMAAHC honors its mission, but it is unfortunate to see pitfalls likely driven by irresponsible bias.”

The museum, which opened in September 2016 and has a permanent collection of over 36,000 artifacts, is a Smithsonian Institution museum.

Thomas, an associate justice of the Supreme Court, was nominated for the position by then-President George H.W. Bush in 1991 to replace the retiring legal trailblazer Thurgood Marshall, who was the first Black American to serve on the Supreme Court.

Read more: Trump tested the Constitution and shredded traditions. Biden and the Democrats have big plans of their own about what to do next.

When the museum first opened, Thomas was largely mentioned only in connection with the contentious 1991 confirmation battle that involved allegations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, a former Thomas staffer.

Thomas strongly denied the allegations and described his confirmation process as “a high-tech lynching.”

He was confirmed to the Supreme Court by a narrow 52-48 margin.

In 2017, a more substantive exhibit about Thomas was presented at the museum, but several conservatives, including insist it is insufficient. Donalds said the tribute to Thomas paled in comparison to that of Marshall.

“As a Black man who has a profound respect for the contributions Justice Thomas has propitiated for generations to come, this museum must encapsulate his life as it does for hundreds of other monumental Black figures,” Donalds wrote, adding that the museum currently doesn’t reflect his “achievements and life compared to his counterpart, the Honorable Justice Thurgood Marshall.”

Donalds also said “Black history cannot and should not be political,” and urged the museum to offer an “unbiased assessment” of Black historical figures. 

“The American people deserve an unbiased assessment of the trailblazers in the Black community – it is time to honor Justice Thomas with this long-overdue documentation of his whole life and history and not the disingenuous effort displayed today,” Donalds wrote. 

Owens echoed a similar sentiment about the Thomas exhibit to Fox News.

“As one of the only two Black men to serve on our nation’s highest and most distinguished court, US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas deserves unbiased recognition from the National Museum of African American History and Culture,” he told the outlet, adding the museum should “appropriately honor the continued legacy of Justice Thomas.”

The museum released a statement to Artnet News regarding the matter.

“While all our exhibitions are based on rigorous research, they are still open to interpretation,” the statement reads. “Through scholarship, publications, and education, the museum will continue to explore the rich contributions and complexity of African Americans.”

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