Rep. Clyburn slams Senate filibuster’s racist history amid minimum wage fight

'They're using the filibuster to deny progress, basically, to low-income people,' Clyburn said, blasting his Republican colleagues.

South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, scolded Republicans for their opposition of an increase in the minimum wage. 

“You see that our Republican colleagues are now adhering to the political philosophies that are a throwback to the 1940s and 1950s. And they’re using the filibuster to deny progress, basically, to low-income people,” Clyburn told those assembled at a Capitol Hill press conference before a two-day gathering on party policy.

South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“If they’re going to use the filibuster to deny a minimum-wage increase, it would be tantamount to using it to deny civil rights,” he said. “That, to me, is what we’re going to be talking about going forward.”

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough recently ruled that Democrats could not include the gradual minimum wage increase in the budget bill that is part of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. Including the increase in that bill would have allowed it to pass with only 51 votes, which Democrats have in the Senate. 

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Republicans, however, have vowed to use the filibuster, which would require 60 votes to end debate on a bill and send it to the final vote. 

Clyburn called the filibuster, which was used against civil rights legislation, an “arcane method of denying progress.” 

“This party is not going to do it, and if [Republicans] want to be characterized that way, we will oblige them,” he said. “I tell you, I will not be quiet on this issue. People of color will not be quiet on this issue.”

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Earlier this month, Clyburn slammed companies and colleagues who’ve opposed the wage increase.

“They ought to be ashamed of themselves,” he said of major corporations and Republican lawmakers. “They give a trillion dollars in tax breaks to wealthy people, and they are bemoaning us using the reconciliation process to give people a $15 an hour minimum wage.”

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