Pa.’s Casey: GOP voter suppression bills are ‘really just about white supremacy’ | Monday Coffee

In a Sunday TV interview, the Keystone State’s senior senator suggests alternatives to abolishing the filibuster to move stalled voting rights bills

July 26, 2021 7:17 am

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., speaks to MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi during a interview on Sunday, 7/25/21 (screen capture).

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic United States senator sketched out two alternatives on Sunday to abolishing the filibuster so that Congress can act on voting rights legislation.

Lawmakers could create a carve-out for urgent pieces of legislation, such as voting rights, bypassing the 60-vote threshold needed for action, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.said during an interview with MSNBC host Ali Velshi.

Or, Democrats, who hold a narrow majority in the 100-member chamber, could allow minority Republicans to “have their say for a number of days or a number of weeks and then just stop,” debate at a definite point, Casey told Velshi.

“I think, in the next couple of weeks, as we deal with major infrastructure issues, we’ll be allocating a lot of time in August and September … to this issue, to voting rights, and a change to the rules. We haven’t had that debate yet. There are other options than 60-vote or no 60-vote rule.”

President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies are under increasing pressure to protect voting rights on the federal level as Republican lawmakers across the nation, including Pennsylvania, tee up hundreds of bills aimed at restricting access to the polls.

Casey’s remarks Sunday mirrored those of U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., who also appeared on Velshi’s Sunday morning show. The senior House Democrat has called on Biden to push Democrats to amend the filibuster rule when it comes to voting rights. He reiterated those concerns to Velshi.

Biden could “pick up the phone and tell [U.S. Sen.] Joe Manchin, ‘Hey, we should do a carve out.’” Clyburn told Politico in a July 10 interview, referring to the West Virginia Democrat who has resisted filibuster reform. “I don’t care whether he does it in a microphone or on the telephone — just do it.”

Speaking to Velshi Sunday, Casey agreed on the need for urgent action.

“I think it’s a sound approach,” he said, referring to Clyburn. “There are certain issues like voting rights that rise to a level of severity and consequence that we should pay special attention, and act with a sense of urgency, and knock away any obstacle including a rule of the Senate.”

Rep. Seth Grove questions Wolf administration officials during a Feb. 13, 2019 budget hearing in the Capitol. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso).

Last week, apparently spurred by comments by Gov. Tom Wolf, Republicans in the state House reintroduced their previously vetoed rewrite of Pennsylvania’s election code which imposes tougher voter identification language and changes to mail-in balloting.

The Democratic governor specifically vetoed the GOP authored bill last month because of its voter identification language, saying it was “incurably riddled with unacceptable barriers to voting.”

In an interview published by the Philadelphia Inquirer last week, Wolf appeared to backtrack, saying he said he was open to “reasonable” voter identification requirements, especially for mail-in voting.

By week’s end, facing a firestorm of criticism from progressives, Wolf clarified his remarks, saying that his position on voter ID had not changed and that he remains opposed to any measure that “suppress the vote,” the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, in a speech to Democratic lawmakers from Texas who fled their state to short-circuit a GOP-authored voter suppression bill, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman decried what he said was the “fiction” animating such bills, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Fetterman, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, has previously said he would vote to abolish the filibuster. During that appearance in Washington D.C. last week, the western Pa. pol urged his fellow Democrats to keep up their resistance, the newspaper reported.

Calling universal voter ID “insidious and unnecessary,” Fetterman repeated arguments, proven by studies, that instances of fraud that backers of voter identification laws seek to stop are “rare, … always caught. and … never materially important to the outcome.”

Speaking to Velshi on Sunday, Casey hammered Republicans backing such bills, which primarily target Black, Latino, and other voters of color, saying they’re “really just about white supremacy.”

“You have a group of Americans, organized Republicans and white supremacists, who don’t like the [2020 election] result, because … Black voters in America allowed Joe Biden and [Vice President] Kamala Harris to win, and bring about a Democratic majority in the Senate,” Casey said. “And they’re trying to suppress the vote of Black Americans.”

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Cassie Miller leads our coverage this morning, parsing new state spending on police, criminal justice, and the courts. That’s this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket.

In a special report, our friends at Stateline note that many states, including Pennsylvania, are moving to ban ransomware payments, even though some experts are urging a different policy.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is seeking public comment on an array of potential transportation projects, including light rail and an aerial tramway, our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper report.

In Philadelphia, LGBTQ community organizations are continuing their efforts to get people vaccinated, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.

And Republicans pushing a sham audit of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election results have accused the Department of State of intimidation tactics for urging counties not to cooperate, Marley Parish reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning, healthcare consultant Janel Myers and opinion regular Fletcher McClellan consider the state of post-pandemic education reform in Pennsylvania.

En la Estrella-CapitalLa tasa de desempleo cayó a 6.9 por ciento en junio, todavía por encima de la tasa nacional. Y para proteger a los niños menores de 12 años este verano, ‘vacúnese’ dice el Médico general del estado.

(c) Scott Van Blarcom –

The Inquirer explains how the myth of the stolen election has taken hold along Philly’s Main Line.

Fired by frustration with the IRS, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, is fighting efforts to expand tax collections to fund infrastructure, The Post-Gazette reports.

PennLive has what you need to know about how central Pennsylvania school districts are preparing to welcome back students this fall.

A planned city surveillance camera system would unfairly target people of color, the York NAACP tells the York Daily Record.

South Whitehall Township in Lehigh County has almost emerged from a 10-year, $850,000 embezzlement saga. The Morning Call looks at its impact on local taxpayers (paywall).

Luzerne County ranks among the top 10 Pennsylvania counties for animal cruelty cases, the Citizens’ Voice reports (paywall).

Philadelphia’s tax revenues are up, but there are concerns about the city’s financial future, WHYY-FM reports.

Parts of Pennsylvania got hazy because of the western wildfires — it could happen againStateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

COVID-19 cases remain low in Erie County, but they’ve still doubled over the last two weeksGoErie reports.

TeleMedicine increased during the pandemic — it’s here to stayCity & State Pa. reports.

PoliticsPA runs down last week’s winners and losers in state politics.

CNN introduces you to the members of the Jan. 6 commission, whose membership is taking shape.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:


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What Goes On
The House Democratic Policy Committee meets at 2 p.m. at the Millvale Food & Energy Hub in Millvale, Pa. At 1:30 p.m., officials from the state Department of Human Services join Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, along with York city and county officials for a newser in the White Rose City on how to take advantage of the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
The House Republican Campaign Committee holds its southeastern Pennsylvania golf outing at 12:30 p.m. at Aronimink Golf Club in scenic Newtown Square, Pa. Admission runs from a merely offensive $750 to a truly reality-beggaring $25,000.

Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Lancaster this morning for a 10 a.m. newser on helping the hospitality industry bounce back from the pandemic.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to state Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, and to Mark Scolforo, of the Associated Press, both of whom celebrate today. Congrats, gentlemen. Enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation
R.E.M. may be gone, but they’re not forgotten. The American alt.rock legends reissued the equally legendary Hib-Tone Records version of their first single ‘Radio Free Europe’ last week. The alternate recording on the long-defunct label sounds nothing like the version released on their debut on IRS Records. Here’s the B-side, one of my favorites, ‘Sitting Still.’

Monday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link
Baltimore edged out Washington 5-4 at Camden Yards on Sunday, as the Os saw out their Battle of the Beltway with a sweep of the Nats.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.