House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Sunday that he backs changes to the Senate filibuster because of how easily it allows members to hold up momentous legislation.
“We need to get rid of the filibuster for constitutional issues, just as we have done for budget issues,” the South Carolina Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Speaking hyperbolically, Clyburn said that in its modern incarnation, the filibuster allows senators “to sit downtown in a spa somewhere, pick up a telephone and call in a filibuster and effectively stop constitutional rights.”
“[They] won’t even come to the floor to argue his or her position; that’s what is wrong with the filibuster,” Clyburn said. “That’s what they’ve done to it.”
Altering or eliminating the Senate filibuster has gained support in recent years among many Democrats who feel that too many critical issues are being blocked by its supermajority requirement. However, the idea still has holdouts within the more moderate wing of the party and broad swaths of Republicans, who instead argue that the 60-vote threshold helps to forge bipartisan compromise.
Clyburn insisted he is not outright opposed to the filibuster’s continued existence, but said the rules surrounding its use do need to be reformed.
“I am not against the filibuster,” he said. “Nobody should filibuster anybody’s constitutional rights.”
Clyburn’s comments were framed as a response to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of the filibuster’s most prominent defenders within the party.
Clyburn was also asked about the impasse within a bipartisan working group on policing reform legislation, which has blown past several informal deadlines as talks sputter.
He acknowledged that the status of negotiations “is teetering” but said he has received assurances from Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), among others, that work on a deal is still continuing.
“We still got some time between the July break or beginning of August to get this done,” Clyburn said. “I really see it that we can do it.”