A top Biden ally is calling on the President to endorse the idea of making legislation that applies to “constitutional rights” filibuster-proof.
Biden could “pick up the phone and tell [Sen.] Joe Manchin, ‘Hey, we should do a carve out,’” Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) told Politico in an article published Saturday. “I don’t care whether he does it in a microphone or on the telephone — just do it.”
That idea would allow Democrats’ key voting rights bills — the For The People Act and a separate update to the 1965 Voting Rights Act — to move forward in the face of Republican opposition, so long as they had 50 Democratic votes.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brought the For The People Act up for a vote last month, but the bill was blocked on party lines, with 50 Republicans voting to block debate. The bill would have needed 60 votes to proceed.
Roughly half the Senate Democratic caucus has expressed openness to getting rid of the filibuster entirely. Other members have expressed interest in some sort of reform to how it works, which could include a carveout of the sort suggested by Clyburn.
Two senators remain solidly opposed to such changes: Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
Clyburn told Politico he had also spoken to Manchin himself. “I’m not asking you to eliminate the filibuster,” he told Politico, recalling their conversation. “But what I’m saying to you is that nobody ought to have the right to filibuster my constitutional rights.”
Democrats have felt an increasing urgency to pass legislation to protect the right to vote as bills to restrict the franchise flood state legislatures, an effort animated by Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election and his months of lies about voter fraud.
If the VRA update, called the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and the For The People Act are not signed into law soon, Clyburn told Politico, “Democrats can kiss the majority goodbye.”