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.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

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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CNN ends contract with Rick Santorum after dismissive comments about Native Americans

Ric Santorum
Rick Santorum appearing on CNN Debate Night on September 29, 2020.

  • Rick Santorum lost his contract at CNN after dismissing the role of Native Americans in US history, per HuffPo.
  • “There isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” he said at an event last month.
  • The comments provoked a wave of outrage from Indigenous groups and organizations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

CNN has terminated its contract with senior political commentator Rick Santorum following statements he made in April that dismissed the role of Native Americans in US history, according to The Huffington Post.

Santorum, a former two-term GOP senator from Pennsylvania and former presidential candidate, provoked a wave of outrage after saying that there was “nothing” in America before colonizers arrived.

“We birthed a nation from nothing,” he said at a Young America’s Foundation last month. “I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

He added: “It was born of the people who came here pursuing religious liberty to practice their faith, to live as they ought to live, and have the freedom to do so. Religious liberty. Those are the two bulwarks of America. Faith and freedom. It is what makes America unique in the world.”

Indigenous-led groups including the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and IllumiNative have spent weeks calling for Santorum’s ouster from CNN over his remarks.

On Saturday, a CNN senior executive told the Huffington Post that the network “quietly ended its contract with Santorum this week.”

The executive, who remained anonymous, said that the decision to boot Santorum came when he made an appearance on “Cuomo Prime Time” with host Chris Cuomo and “blew it” with his explanation of the comments.

Read more: Being a Black Republican is exhausting. But Sen. Tim Scott and other big-name conservatives say they don’t need anyone’s pity or platitudes.

After this incident, the executive told the Huffington Post that “nobody” stood up to vouch him to remain at the network.

“Leadership wasn’t particularly satisfied with that appearance,” the executive added. “None of the anchors wanted to book him. So he was essentially benched anyway.”

During his appearance on Cuomo’s show, Santorum contended that he had “misspoke” and said his remarks were “taken out of context,” but did not apologize for the cultural erasure of Native Americans in his comments.

“I think after that appearance, it was pretty clear we couldn’t use him again,” the executive told the Huffington Post.

A CNN spokesman also confirmed with the Huffington Post that the network ended its relationship with the former senator this week.

For weeks, the NCAI sought to publicly pressure CNN to remove Santorum from network, threatening a boycott.

“Rick Santorum is an unhinged and embarrassing racist who disgraces CNN and any other media company that provides him a platform,” said NCAI president Fawn Sharp in a statement last month. “Televising someone with his views on Native American genocide is fundamentally no different than putting an outright Nazi on television to justify the Holocaust. Any mainstream media organization should fire him or face a boycott from more than 500 tribal nations and our allies from across the country and worldwide.”

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Rick Santorum says ‘there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture’

Rick Santorum
  • Former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum sparked backlash over comments made about Native Americans.
  • “There isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” Santorum said.
  • Online critics accused Santorum of whitewashing US history.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum sparked online backlash over recent remarks made at an event for a conservative youth organization in which he suggested Native Americans didn’t contribute to the culture of the US.

“We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” the Pennsylvania Republican said at a Young America’s Foundation event on Friday, in comments first reported by Media Matters for America.

“It was born of the people who came here pursuing religious liberty to practice their faith, to live as they ought to live, and have the freedom to do so. Religious liberty. Those are the two bulwarks of America. Faith and freedom,” Santorum, now a senior political contributor at CNN, went on to say. “I mean, you hear it all the time about faith and freedom, faith and freedom. But it is what makes America unique in the world.”

Santorum was widely lambasted over his remarks, with many accusing him of whitewashing the atrocities committed against indigenous peoples.

Some accused Santorum of echoing the talking points of white nationalists.

Santorum’s organization, Patriot Voices, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider. CNN also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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