Filibuster Reform Demanded By James Clyburn To Save Democracy

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In new remarks to POLITICO, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who has long been an ally of President Joe Biden, called for presidential support for changes to the filibuster rules in the Senate. At present, filibuster rules in the 100-member chamber demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators before moving forward, including to a final vote, on most legislation, and this provision — which supporters have touted for, among other ramifications, its supposed ability to force a level of bipartisan cooperation — allows Republicans to block progress. At present, the fates of two monumental voting rights bills hang in the balance because of Senate filibuster rules.

Clyburn “told POLITICO Biden “should endorse” the idea of creating a carveout to the legislative filibuster in the Senate for legislation that applies to the Constitution,” according to the publication. Such a “carveout” would allow for the passage of voting rights protections without sticking to current Senate filibuster rules. As Clyburn put it, Biden could “pick up the phone and tell Joe Manchin, ‘Hey, we should do a carve out.'” Manchin, a Democratic Senator from West Virginia, has supported the filibuster. “I don’t care whether [Biden] does it in a microphone or on the telephone — just do it,” Clyburn added, discussing the hoped-for support for Senate filibuster reform from the president.

Without movement on voting rights, Clyburn told POLITICO that “Democrats can kiss the majority goodbye,” adding as follows: “I can see in a state like Georgia — where people stepped up in January in a way nobody thought they ever would — I can see the disappointment in the voters to the extent that Warnock would not be back.” Because he’s technically completing the term of a previous Senator who retired, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) has to go before voters again in 2022, at which point, if successful, he’d get a full term.

Voting rights bills currently under consideration in some form include the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The For the People Act has already been filibustered by Senate Republicans — although former President Barack Obama recently said that he believed Democratic leaders would settle on some way to bring it up for a vote once more, while the John Lewis Voting Rights Act is set to be considered by the Senate later this year. If enacted, that latter bill would reimpose a previously in place requirement for approval by federal authorities before the implementation of certain changes to the conducting of elections. The idea — or at least, the hope — would be to stop voter suppression before it starts.