Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, once a somewhat respected, relatively moderate Republican known for his close friendship with John McCain, has warped beyond all recognition into a full-blown MAGA zealot. He has contorted himself into one of Donald Trump’s most consistently obsequious lapdogs, defending without fail whatever latest filth spews from the president’s mouth, regardless of how racist or unconstitutional it may be.
Graham is a cynic, a man who once vocally detested Trump but who now pretends to love him in the hopes of exploiting his vile movement to further his own career. In doing so, he is helping to undermine our time-honored democratic institutions and shred our political norms.
Today, Graham called for a Judiciary Committee vote on his asylum bill and it appears he may have bent the rules to push it forward. Politico reports that Democrats have accused Graham as chairman of the committee of unfairly altering the rules to advance the legislation.
Graham claimed that the change was necessary because Democrats have been trying to delay the vote by denying the committee quorum. This led to an awkward moment when Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) explained that he was not in attendance last week because he was at a funeral.
Democrats have pointed out that the rules change is pointless because the bill will die in the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives anyway.
The bill itself would allow children to be detained for longer stretches of time and would force asylum seekers to submit their applications in their home countries rather than at the border and is just another transparent GOP ploy to pander to xenophobes without actually addressing our immigration problems.
During the committee meeting, Graham called for the clerk to call the roll. Immediately, Democrats raised their voices to object. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) called a point of order and told Graham he was breaking the rules of the committee. Graham forged ahead despite the outrage.
“Mr. chairman this is unprecedented, that a chairman would do this,” said Feinstein.
Graham refused to answer the point of order request and the Republicans in the room immediately began voting “aye.” Feinstein voted “no” as did Leahy. Graham then ignored another point of order and demanded the vote continue.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) refused to vote at all on the grounds that it was an “illegitimate process.” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-NY) said that he agreed that the rules were being broken and voted “no.” Democrats continued to voice their opposition to the behavior but Graham declared that the motion had passed.
Once again, we see Republicans ignoring the rules when it’s convenient for them. If a Democrat had pulled what Graham did today right-wingers would be outraged and would call it a gross abuse of power. Thankfully, as previously mentioned, Graham’s draconian bill likely won’t pass in the House. His pathetic partisan posturing will be for naught.
Lindsey Graham calls for a vote on an asylum bill before Judiciary Committee Democrats speak, via CSPAN.
Graham: "The clerk will call the roll."
Feinstein: "You're breaking the rules of the Committee … Mr. Chairman, this is unprecedented." pic.twitter.com/3nITYIQ6qE
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 1, 2019