Dec 12, 2021 - Axios on HBO

Clyburn predicts Dems will “get around” filibuster on voting rights

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told "Axios on HBO" he expects Senate Democrats will find a way to get around the filibuster to pass federal voting rights legislation.

Why it matters: Protecting and expanding voting rights was a major issue Joe Biden campaigned on, but Democrats haven't been able to enact any protections nearly a year into his presidency. Clyburn predicted Congress will combine various bills into one — though he couldn't say when.

  • "It may require some jiu-jitsu, but that's not beyond the Senate to do that," he said.
  • "They'll come up with some way to get around it," Clyburn added. "We had better come up with some way to get around it, because this democracy is teetering on collapse."

Between the lines: The House has passed voting rights and election reform bills but they've been modified and stuck in the Senate for months.

  • The Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act are both stalled in the Senate, and Republicans killed the Democrats' For the People Act in the Senate last summer.
  • "We will find a way to get these voting rights bills passed," said Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House.

The backdrop: A small group of Senate Democrats, including Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, have been huddling to discuss rules changes that could help pass voting rights without Republican support — but not end the filibuster.

  • Last week, the White House released a fact sheet detailing how it's attempting to "restore and strengthen democracy."
  • In March, President Biden also signed an executive order to promote greater access to voting.

Clyburn isn't encouraging his Senate colleagues to eliminate the filibuster, instead arguing the budget reconciliation process "ought to apply to constitutional issues like voting" — even though he isn't a fan of the partisan political ramrod.

  • "I happened to have been around in 1964 and '65, when we had to overcome filibusters to get the Voting Rights Act passed and the Civil Rights Act of '64," he told "Axios on HBO."
  • "When you institutionalize the filibuster, you are institutionalizing racism."

Go deeper: In a wide-ranging conversation during the program's season finale, Clyburn also said he believes Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) should be stripped of her committee assignments — but the GOP needs to hold her accountable itself.

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