Clyburn urges Biden to back filibuster changes for election reform

Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C,)
Greg Nash

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) is urging President Biden to back filibuster changes to allow Democrats to pass their key election reform measures with only Democratic support.

In an interview with Politico, Clyburn said Biden should “endorse” the idea of creating a carveout to the filibuster specifically for legislation that applies to the Constitution.

Biden could “pick up the phone and tell [Sen.] Joe Manchin, ‘Hey, we should do a carveout,’” Clyburn said, referring to the West Virginia Democrat who has repeatedly vowed to not get rid of the filibuster.

“I don’t care whether he does it in a microphone or on the telephone — just do it,” Clyburn added of Biden.

The comments come as Democrats seek to overcome the 50-50 divide in the Senate and pass their sweeping election reform legislation and another bill to restore key parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Democrats have pushed to advance the legislation as various GOP-led states move to tighten voting rules following the 2020 presidential election.

Senate Republicans successfully filibustered Democrats’ election reform measure, called the For the People Act, late last month.

Clyburn told Politico that there are two options to get voting reform passed: Either Manchin gets 10 Republicans to back voting rights legislation, or Democrats get rid of the filibuster.

The top House Democrat said he’s met with Manchin about the filibuster and told him, “I’m not asking you to eliminate the filibuster. … But what I’m saying to you is that nobody ought to have the right to filibuster my constitutional rights.”

Both Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), two key moderate Democrats, have been vocal in their opposition to getting rid of the filibuster.

In March, Biden indicated that he would support changing filibuster rules if they continued to hinder passage of priority agenda items, specifically bringing back the talking filibuster, though progressives and activists have grown increasingly impatient and urged changes.

Biden has emphasized protecting voting rights as a top priority for his administration, and he is set to speak in Philadelphia on Tuesday about the topic. The president has tasked Vice President Harris with leading the administration’s efforts on voting rights.

Tags James Clyburn Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema Senate filibuster
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