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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

Miyares elected as first Latino attorney general in Virginia history

Jason Miyares speaks during a campaign rally for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin on Oct. 25. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Republican Jason Miyares has defeated incumbent Mark Herring and will become the first Latino attorney general in Virginia's history, and the first Latino to win a statewide race, per AP.

Why it matters: Miyares' victory comes as part of a sweep for Republicans in Virginia. After having not won a statewide race since 2009, the GOP won all three executive positions up for grabs in 2021.

Police union: "Draconian" reforms unlikely after Minneapolis vote

Members of the Minneapolis Police Department seen through a chain link gate. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Cities and states are unlikely to see many new "defund the police" proposals after Minneapolis voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot measure to overhaul the city's police department, one of the nation's largest police unions tells Axios.

What they're saying: "I believe, by and large, that ship has sailed," said Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, a national police organization that represents 356,000 officers.

Updated 15 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.