House Majority Whip James Clyburn, (D-SC) speaks during a hearing in Washington, D.C., September 23, 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool via Reuters)

House majority whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.) on Sunday suggested senators Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) must quit their “foolishness” in opposing Democrats’ plans to suspend the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.

Clyburn appeared on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, where host Jake Tapper noted that Manchin and Sinema both support both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, but oppose sidestepping the filibuster to pass the bills.

Sinema said last week that “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.”

Tapper asked Clyburn, “Doesn’t she have a point? The Democrats might need that filibuster as soon as 2025 to stop Republicans from imposing even harsher voting restrictions.”

“Look, no she is not right about that,” Clyburn argued, noting that the Senate “just got around the filibuster to raise the debt limit.”

“No one has asked her to eliminate the filibuster,” he said. “The filibuster is there for all of these issues that may be policy issues but when it comes to the constitution of the United States of America, no one person sitting downtown in a spa ought to be able to pick up the telephone and say you are going to put a hole in my ability to vote and that’s what’s going on here.”

Dem. WHIP Rep. James Clyburn says the election reform bills are not dead, but he allows that “they may be on life support,” adding, “we’re not giving up. We’re going to fight and we plan to win because the people of goodwill are going to break their silence and help us win.” pic.twitter.com/gdhjL2OmVx

— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) January 16, 2022

“So I would wish they would stop that foolishness because if we do not protect the vote with everything that we’ve got, we will not have a country to protect going forward,” he said. “I don’t know where we got the notion from that this democracy is here to stay no matter how we conduct ourselves.”

He went on to say lawmakers swear to protect the country from enemies foreign and domestic and noted there are some domestic enemies that “showed up on January 6 and they didn’t stop, they’re there still going on.”

Sinema reiterated her commitment to preserving the filibuster in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, rejecting the arguments of Democratic leaders, including President Biden, that the filibuster represents an obstacle to passing the voting rights bills.

Sinema and Manchin’s opposition — which had been well established despite Democrats’ belief they could be swayed — effectively kills the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The former would federalize some facets of elections, including setting a 15-day minimum early-voting period and setting national standards for voter-ID laws to include a range of documentation. The latter would restore portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that allowed the Justice Department to review election-rule changes in districts with a history of discrimination.

“There’s no need for me to restate my longstanding support for the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation. There’s no need for me to restate its role in protecting our country from wild reversals of federal policy,” Sinema said Thursday. “This week’s harried discussions about Senate rules are but a poor substitute for what I believe could have and should have been a thoughtful public debate at any time over the past year.”

Manchin called the speech “excellent.”

After Biden came out in favor of changing the Senate rules “whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking actions on voting rights,” Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) threatened retaliation if Democrats changed the filibuster, saying the move would ultimately backfire and usher in a “procedural nuclear winter.”

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