Clyburn: Allowing filibuster to be used to deny voting rights would be ‘catastrophic’
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in a new interview that allowing the filibuster to be used to deny voting rights would be “catastrophic” as a sweeping elections bill awaits consideration in the Senate.
“There’s no way under the sun that in 2021 that we are going to allow the filibuster to be used to deny voting rights. That just ain’t gonna happen. That would be catastrophic,” Clyburn told The Guardian in an interview published Sunday, just days after the House voted largely along party lines to pass H.R. 1, also known as the For The People Act.
Clyburn clarified that he was not “going to say that you must get rid of the filibuster” but said the party “would do well to develop a Manchin-Sinema rule on getting around the filibuster as it relates to race and civil rights.”
The comments come as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have been criticized by liberals over their opposition to certain issues supported by some on the left, including eliminating the filibuster. The lawmakers were also recently among seven Democrats this past week who voted against a proposal to increase the hourly federal minimum wage to $15.
“If Manchin and Sinema enjoy being in the majority, they had better figure out a way to get around the filibuster when it comes to voting and civil rights,” Clyburn told The Guardian.
H.R. 1, backed by Democrats and the White House, contains a number of provisions proponents say are aimed at protecting voting rights and election integrity after former President Trump pushed unproven claims about the presidential election for months in his bid to overturn the results of the November race.
Those provisions include making Election Day a federal holiday, requiring states to provide voters with mail-in ballots and at least 15 days of early voting. Another section included in the bill aimed at tackling partisan gerrymandering would task independent commissions with drawing congressional districts.
Members of the GOP, however, have largely criticized the legislation, painting it as a power grab by Democrats. Former Vice President Mike Pence last week described the measure as “unconstitutional, reckless, and anti-democratic.”
Voting rights advocates have also been pushing on Congress to take action on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would require states found to have had repeated voting rights violations in recent history to receive federal approval in order to make voting changes. The legislation would restore a significant provision of the Voting Rights Act that was thrown out by the Supreme Court years back.
President Biden is also expected deliver remarks pushing for the measure on Sunday.
The push comes as a number of state legislatures across the country have taken up legislation that would restrict voter access, including a series of Republican-backed bills in Georgia.