House Majority Whip James Clyburn is determined to make sure the Democrats’ mammoth voting rights legislation known as the “For the People Act” gets passed in the Senate — even if it means finding a workaround to the legislative filibuster for the far-reaching bill.
Clyburn (D-SC) has urged his colleagues in numerous interviews recently to find a way to ram the bill through the Senate in spite of the filibuster, the Senate rule requiring 60 members to end debate on most topics and move forward to a vote, while offering a solution of his own.
Speaking to MSNBC’s “All In” Tuesday evening, Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, noted that there were exceptions to the filibuster applying to budget-related bills to make his point that it could be ignored elsewhere.
“I don’t think these things should be subject to the filibuster, because I think it is very clear, if we can make an exception to the filibuster rules for budgets, we ought to be able to make it an exception for any other civil or voting right that exists,” the South Carolina lawmaker remarked.
“Protected classes are treated specially, and the filibuster ought not to apply to benefits and other issues surrounding protective classes. So that’s what I think we should do. I’m not saying get rid of the filibuster. If the president wants to keep the filibuster, fine, but let’s do it for civil rights and voting rights as we’ve done for the budget.”
The bill, also known as House Resolution 1, passed the lower chamber last Wednesday on a 220-210 party line vote.
The package aims to “expand access” to the polls, put an end to gerrymandering and set up public funding for congressional races.
It will also require states to offer mail-in ballots, same-day voter registration and a minimum of 15 days of early voting.
The bill also guarantees voting rights to former felons nationwide, bypassing the states that had opted not to grant those rights to ex-cons. It will also require states to inform citizens of their restored voting rights in writing.
While there have been bipartisan concerns over voter ID requirements, the package reverses states’ more stringent voter ID laws for the new federal standards which allow voting with no ID.
One major pillar of the package would be the establishment of a new public financing system for candidates for Congress, which would permit potential lawmakers to receive a 6 to 1 match in smaller campaign contributions.
For example, through the program, if a candidate for the House of Representatives received a $200 donation, they would receive $1,200 in public funds. The donation could not exceed $200.
The legislation would fund the costs with a 4.75 percent surcharge on criminal and civil penalties and settlements from corporations paying the US government.
Proceeds from these settlements and penalties would be deposited into a newly created “Freedom From Influence Fund.”
States that opt to purge their voter rolls will see new limits on that authority if the bill is signed into law.
Some of the most notable portions of the bill, and what has garnered the most opposition from the GOP, include the elimination of interstate cross-checks to purge voter rolls.
Cross-checks allow for states to find duplicate registrations, but HR 1 will require that those checks and subsequent purges be done at least six months before Election Day.
If a state wanted to conduct a cross-check after that six month deadline was reached, it would need to provide a voter’s full name, date of birth and the last four digits of their social security number.
The federal government also offers voters in some of the 36 states that have some form of voter ID requirement a workaround, instead offering the option for individuals to instead present a sworn statement to an election official.
That sworn statement would be submitted under penalty of perjury.
The package has the full backing of President Biden and Senate Democrats, however Republicans on Capitol Hill have decried HR 1, saying it would create distrust in the voting process for GOP voters and only benefit the left with higher turnout.
“Democrats want to use their razor-thin majority not to pass bills to earn voters’ trust, but to ensure they don’t lose more seats in the next election,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on the House floor Tuesday.
It was Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary that revived his candidacy and catapulted him back to front-runner status following dismal showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Biden’s ascent to the nomination is largely credited to his dominating performance in South Carolina.
Clyburn, an influential Democrat even outside of the Biden connection, said Sunday in an interview with the Guardian that allowing the filibuster to be used to deny voting rights would be “catastrophic.”
“There’s no way under the sun that in 2021 that we are going to allow the filibuster to be used to deny voting rights. That just ain’t gonna happen. That would be catastrophic,” he said.
“If Manchin and Sinema enjoy being in the majority, they had better figure out a way to get around the filibuster when it comes to voting and civil rights.”
A spokesperson for Clyburn did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for further clarification on the South Carolina Democrat’s position.