- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2022

House Democrats leaders have expanded the party’s crusade to label MAGA Republicans a “threat to democracy” to include pro-life conservatives.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries of New York said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, belongs in the threat-to-democracy camp because of his bill that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“If your top agenda is a nationwide ban on abortion, we’re not making [that] up,” Mr. Jeffries said. “Lindsey Graham just introduced the bill that would leave in place extreme bans that states have enacted all across the country and undermine the freedom of women to make their own reproductive health care decisions in states like California, New York or the commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond.”

Mr. Jeffries named Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, as an extremist. He cited Mr. Scott’s proposals to sunset all federal programs, which critics say would jeopardize the existence of Medicare and Social Security.

The chairman singled out Mr. Graham and Mr. Scott when pressed by The Washington Times to identify lawmakers that fit President Biden’s description of being a threat to democracy. Mr. Biden in recent speeches labeled supporters of former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement as threats to American democracy.

Mr. Biden also characterized MAGA Republicans as being “semi-fascist.” In an address to the nation, the president alluded to an active threat posed not only by those involved in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, but also by sitting Republican lawmakers.

Asked about Mr. Jeffries’ labeling, Mr. Graham’s office responded by saying the Democrats take extreme positions on abortion. 

“If Democrats want to argue that painful, late-term abortions up until birth — like those taking place in Maryland, California, New York, Illinois and Oregon — make America a better place, they are free to do so. The vast majority of Americans reject their position,” Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop said.

He refrained from responding directly to Mr. Jeffries’ citing the senator as a threat to democracy.

Republicans have accused Mr. Biden and other Democrats of promoting a divisive ideology and fueling more politically motivated hate in America with their attacks on MAGA Republicans.

Joe Biden is the divider in chief and epitomizes the current state of the Democrat Party: one of divisiveness, disgust, and hostility towards half the country,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said after Mr. Biden’s address to the nation.

Most congressional Democrats have refused to name names when condemning Republicans as un-American or anti-democratic. Yet Democrats use a broad brush to paint Republicans as a threat and more recently have zeroed in on the party’s social agenda.

“A lot of these members support these radical, extreme policies that are out of step with where the American public is on women’s reproductive health, women’s access to abortion, on gun safety,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar, California Democrat.

Rep. Katherine Clark, a Massachusetts Democrat who serves as assistant House speaker, said votes against Democratic bills revealed which Republicans were against democracy.

“They name themselves with every single vote in the House of Representatives,” she said. “If we just look at this summer, [they’re] voting against common-sense gun safety that can improve lives and make it safer for communities. Then they went on and voted against protecting a woman’s right to choose.”

The expansion of what constitutes a dangerous MAGA Republican coincides with the final seven-week sprint to Election Day, when House Democrats are widely expected to lose the majority. 

Still, some House Democrats confined their threat-to-democracy criteria to the events surrounding the Jan. 6 riot, such as Republicans who voted to object to Mr. Biden’s electoral victory in some states.

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, the New York Democrat who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he believed anyone who objected to the 2020 election results is a threat to the country. 

“Those individuals who still say Joe Biden wasn’t democratically elected, they are threats to democracy. We’ve never had that before. Particularly from an individual who is the former president,” Mr. Meeks said. “If you look at Jan. 6, we came right back here, and many of my colleagues still chose to vote against affirming that Joe Biden was the duly elected president of the United States.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat who is a member of the far-left “Squad,” echoed Mr. Meeks’ comments.

“I do think that given Republican attempts and present threats to not certify the presidential election results that the threat to our democracy is very, very real,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said.

Another Squad member, Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, went further to suggest that many of her Republican colleagues were engaged in insurrection and sedition.

“There are some extremists who are operating in fiction and not fact, participating in potentially sedition, insurrection, by perpetuating this big lie and undermining a free and fair election,” Ms. Pressley said. “So, [Mr. Biden] was just stating the facts as they are.”

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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