'We are not going to roll over' on voting rights: Clyburn

Martha Raddatz interviews House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn on "This Week."
7:48 | 01/16/22

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Transcript for 'We are not going to roll over' on voting rights: Clyburn
- Joining us now is the president's close ally, House Majority Whip James Clyburn. Good morning to you, Congressman Clyburn. It looks all but certain that this voting rights bill will not pass on Tuesday. Senators Sinema and Manchin have said no to changing the filibuster rules. Do you have any hope things might change before Tuesday? - Well, first of all, thank you very much for having me this morning. You know, the South Carolinians live by and large by our state motto, as I breathe, I hope. Yes, I do have hope. I know that these two Democrats have decided that it is much more important to them to protect the voting rights for the minority on the Senate floor than to protect the voting rights of minorities in this great country of ours. This great country-- the minorities that made it possible for them to be in the position that they're currently in. So I have hope. But I don't think that we will change their minds. But we'll see. MARTHA RADDATZ: I guess you can have hope. But even after a meeting at the White House, they didn't seem to change their mind. President Biden left the door open to trying again if this fails. Where does the fight go from here? There are several proposals out there. Overhauling the Electoral Count Act, that 19th century law President Trump tried to exploit to overturn the 2020 election, would you support that? Where does this go from here? JAMES CLYBURN: Sure, I support that. I have been calling for a reform of the electoral college for most of my adult life. I do believe winner-take-all elections have been misusing this country for too long. How do you get a person that gets 50%-plus-one of the vote in a state gets 100% of the electoral college? I don't like that at all. So I've been calling for that. But that's for presidential election. What is going to happen this November 2022 to those laws down in Georgia that says it's a crime-- it's going to be criminal to give somebody a drink of water while they're standing in line to vote? What's going to happen to those nullification laws that they're putting in place that says that you can overturn this election if you don't like the result? That's got nothing to do with the electoral college. And let's stop trying to change the discussion here. - You talk about those voting restrictions in place all across the country. What does that mean for the midterms? What does it mean for 2024? And how do you, as a Democrat, counter that? JAMES CLYBURN: Well, you counter that by getting these laws passed. And if we don't get it done this week, I want to see the Senate voting. I want to see where people stand. You know, this is Martin Luther King Jr.'s weekend. I first met Martin Luther King Jr. back in 1960. And I can remember a song we sang back then, "Which Side Are You On?" That song comes to mind today. When I look at these senators, which side are you on? So let's have the vote so we can get the definitive answer to that question. And after that vote is taken, then we will collectively make some decisions as the best way to go. I will tell you this. We are not going to roll over. The president has said that if you don't do it this week, he's going to find a way to come back the following week or the week after that. So we are going to keep pressing this issue. We are not going to roll over. MARTHA RADDATZ: You know, I want to go back to President Biden. He got very serious pushback after his speech on Tuesday from all sides. Senator Dick Durbin said he took it a little too far by comparing current voting restrictions to Jim Crow. Mitch McConnell called Biden "profoundly unpresidential" for his divisive language. So was that fierce tone counterproductive? - Absolutely not. I disagree with both those statements. I know Dick. I like Dickie a whole lot. But let me tell you something. That's what Jim Crow is all about. We had a vote during Reconstruction-- which came to an end, by the way, in 1876. And when it came to instructions-- came to an end, we got Jim Crow laws. That's exactly what these laws about. These are Jim Crow 2.0. That is one of the strongest parts of the president's speech that I agree with. So this whole notion, when you walk around and no one has ever discriminated against you because of your skin color, or you've never had to worry about having your vote counted, you can have those kinds of statements. But you're talking to one who knows a different history in this country. And that's exactly what these laws are-- Jim Crow 2.0. MARTHA RADDATZ: I want to turn to President Biden's poll numbers. You're credited with turning the tide for President Biden in 2020. But as he approaches this one year in office, his poll numbers are at an all-time low. A Quinnipiac Poll recently showed a 33% job approval rating. How does he turn that around? - Well you keep pressing. Keep pressing on. Now, if Joe Biden had quit after he lost those first three races, he would not be where he is today. I tell people all the time, three strikes and you're out is a baseball rule. And he-- we should not live by baseball rules. He didn't live by baseball rules then, he's now the president. He is going to keep pressing. We're going to keep moving forward. If John Lewis were here, he would say this morning, we are not going back. We are pressing forward. Keep pressing, and we'll get to where we need to be. MARTHA RADDATZ: Congressman, I want to ask you one final question. This is what Senator Bernie Sanders told "The New York Times" as we head into the midterms. "I think millions of Americans have become very demoralized. They're asking, what do the Democrats stand for? Clearly, the current strategy is failing and we need a major course correction." Do you disagree with that? - Well, I don't know what he has reference to. But I think that we've been pressing forward on an agenda. What do we stand for? We stand for the American Rescue Act. We stand for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Both now law. We stand for Build Back Better that we have passed in the House, and it's time for the senators to do what they need to do to get those bills across the finish line. We stand for fair, free, unfettered elections. And it's time that we pass that in the House. Democrats are in control in the House. I'm the vote counter in the House. We passed all these bills. That's what we Democrats stand for. Come on, Senate. Step up. Change your arcane rules and get these bills passed. And everybody will know what we stand for. It's the Senate and its rules standing in the way. MARTHA RADDATZ: OK. Thanks very much for joining us this morning, Congressman.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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