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Photo: Axios

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Wednesday that the current debate over critical race theory is a "red herring" used to avoid addressing systemic racism.

Why it matters: Clyburn's comments at an Axios virtual event come amidst a Republican push to ban the teaching of critical race theory —which holds that racism is baked into the formation of the nation and is ingrained in the legal, financial, and education systems.

What he's saying: "Let them know this is a red herring," Clyburn said. "This is what people are trying to use in order to spread strife."

  • "And I just think that that's where we are missing the mark, by not explaining to the American people that this is the truth," he added. "All the stuff that they're saying is just stuff that they're using to divide this country. Believe it or not, everybody sitting in office up her do not believe in democracy. These people believe in autocracy."

Clyburn also touched on three bills that have stalled in Congress: voting rights, police reform and gun legislation.

He said lawmakers will have to work "very hard" to get a bipartisan vote in order for legislation to pass as Democrats hold a narrow majority in both chambers and said the usual summer recess would likely be cut short.

  • "We'll be back because I think that there's movement on all fronts," Clyburn said when speaking on legislation stalled in Congress. "I don't know about guns, but I think when it comes to voting, there's some significant movement when it comes to voting."

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Updated Aug 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

In photos: Thousands descend on D.C. to march for voting rights

Demonstrators hold signs while walking during the March On for Washington and Voting Rights rally in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28. Photo: Pete Kiehart/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Thousands of people marched in cities across the United States on Saturday to urge the Senate to pass voting rights legislation and put pressure on state legislatures to expand voting access, NBC reports.

Driving the news: The March On for Voting Rights took place in D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Phoenix and other cities "to demand that elected officials protect democracy, denounce voter suppression and ensure fair, easy access to the vote for all through the passage of comprehensive federal legislation," per the group's website.

2 hours ago - World

UN chief urges U.S. and China to fix "dysfunctional relationship"

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a Sept. 13 press conference in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / Coffini/AFP via Getty Images

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres raised concerns in an interview with AP, published Monday, of another Cold War between the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Guterres made the comments ahead of this week's UN General Assembly in New York. Guterres told AP the U.S.-U.K. deal to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia "is just one small piece of a more complex puzzle ... this completely dysfunctional relationship between China and the United States."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

FBI says human remains found in Wyoming likely Gabby Petito

Gabby Petito. Photo: FBI

Human remains found in Teton County, Wyoming, are "consistent with the description of" missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito, FBI Denver official Charles Jones said at a news conference Sunday.

Details: The cause of death had yet to be determined, but Jones said: "Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified of this discovery." Authorities said they're continuing the search for her fiancé, Brian Laundrie.