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Clyburn on election reform bills: We’re not giving up

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, in discussing election reform legislation, on Sunday emphasized a takeaway from a Martin Luther King Jr. speech: “Silence is consent.”

“We’re going to fight, and we plan to win, because people of goodwill are going to break their silence and help us win this battle,” Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

President Joe Biden traveled to Georgia last week to push Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to get rid of the filibuster in order to pass the election reform bills. “The filibuster has been weaponized and abused,” Biden said.

In response, Sinema said, “Eliminating the 60-vote threshold will simply guarantee that we lose a critical tool that we need to safeguard our democracy from threats in the years to come.”

Clyburn said he disagreed with her statement. “When it comes to the Constitution of the United States of America, no one person sitting downtown in the spa ought to be able to pick up the telephone and say, ‘You are going to put a hold on my ability to vote,’” Clyburn said, adding “I wish they’d stop that foolishness.”

People, Clyburn said, need to step up and end the silence to get these bills passed. His reference to King on the day before the federal holiday that honors the civil rights leader was an allusion to a famous line from a 1967 King speech: “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

Clyburn made the same pitch on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He told host Chuck Todd: “When people tell me they are for this legislation, but they’re against the processes that we need in order to get the legislation, then I don’t think you’re on the right side of history. So we ought to fight. We’ve got to have these votes. We’ve got to see which side people are on.“

On Saturday night, former President Donald Trump called for Republicans to pass stricter election laws, including harsher rules regarding voter ID, drop box locations and absentee voting, something Clyburn called “Third-World stuff.”

“I remember corporations stepping up when Georgia was passing those draconian voter laws down there,” Clyburn said. “All of a sudden now, they have gone silent.”

The election reform bills “may be on life support,” Clyburn said, “I want to tell everybody, we’re not giving up.”

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