Tuesday, May 18

Top House Democrat Jim Clyburn: “We would in no way allow the obstructionist to deny voting rights” | US Voting Rights

One of Washington’s most powerful Democrats has issued a frank warning to members of his own party, saying they need to find a way to pass important laws on the right to vote or they will lose control of Congress.

The comments from Jim Clyburn, the whip of the House majority, came days after the House of Representatives passed a broad voting rights bill that would enact some of the most dramatic expansions of the right to vote since. the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Although Democrats also control the United States Senate, the bill is unlikely to pass the House due to a procedural rule, obstructionism, which requires 60 votes to do. advance legislation.

In an interview with The Guardian this week, Clyburn called in two moderate Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have opposed getting rid of the filibuster. Republicans across the country are pushing for sweeping measures to restrict voting rights and letting expansive voting rights legislation die would hurt Democrats, Clyburn said.

“There is no way that in 2021 we are going to allow filibuster to be used to deny voting rights. That just won’t happen. That would be catastrophic, ”he said. “If Manchin and Sinema enjoy being in the majority, they better find a way to get around the filibuster when it comes to voting and civil rights.”

Clyburn issued that warning before the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the day in 1965 that law enforcement officers brutally beat up voting rights activists in Selma, Alabama.

Clyburn and other House Democrats hoped that the early days of Joe Biden’s administration would be marked by the passage of a bill named after the late Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights hero who almost die on bloody sunday. That measure would reinstate a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, struck down by the supreme court in 2013, that required venues with a history of voting discrimination to obtain approval of election changes from the federal government before they took effect. .

“We are talking here about the Voting Rights Act that you worked so hard for and that is named in your honor and they are going to obstruct it to death? That’s not going to happen, ”Clyburn said.

But the likelihood of that bill becoming law is doubtful under current procedures. Democrats hope Republicans will find a reason to obstruct it after its expected approval by the House of Representatives and its consideration in the Senate. Therefore, Clyburn is calling for some kind of solution to obstructionism in the current legislative climate, in which the Senate is 50% divided and the use of the legislative obstruction mechanism is all too common.

“I’m not going to say that you should get rid of obstructionism. I would say you would do well to develop a Manchin-Sinema rule to get around filibuster when it comes to race and civil rights, ”Clyburn said.

Clyburn said he has not discussed changing filing with Biden, who has expressed support for keeping filing in place.

Joe Manchin leaves the Senate chamber last month.
Joe Manchin leaves the Senate chamber last month. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The reality of its slim majority and the regularity of legislation dying from obstruction has led Democrats to choose to approve the Biden administration’s Covid aid package through a budget process called reconciliation, which is not subject to the 60 threshold. clog-proof votes. Clyburn wants to see the same with civil rights.

“You can’t clog the budget,” Clyburn said. “That is why we have reconciliation rules. We need a reconciliation of voting and civil rights. That should have been allowed to reconcile a long, long time ago. “

He noted: “If the headlines read that the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act was filibustered to death, it would be catastrophic.”

Clyburn’s comments underscore how difficult it is for the federal government to push through any bill due to mysterious legislative hurdles. Widely popular proposals, such as a minimum wage increase or a voting rights bill, appear dead upon arrival. And that has left veteran Senate Democrats skeptical that even a bill protecting Americans’ voting rights has a chance. First, the filibuster would have to go away, and that seems unlikely at this point.

“The short-term prospects of ending obstructionism seem remote just because there are no votes to do so,” said Luke Albee, former chief of staff for Democratic Senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Pat Leahy of Vermont. “My instinct is that it will take six months, eight months, a year of total obstructionism from the Republican side for senators who are now skeptical of getting rid of obstructionism to at least have a more open mind about it.”

Albee also said it was possible that a Voting Rights Act could face strong Republican opposition, despite Clyburn’s confidence.

“There is no one who expects it to happen more than me, but I am concerned that it is a toxic environment,” added Albee.


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