The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina that aired Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right now I want to speak to House Majority Whip, Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn, who joins us from Santee, South Carolina, this morning. Congressman, it’s good to have you on the program. I want to start with what has happened in the past two weeks, we’ve had these three mass shootings. Back in June, you helped to push through this bipartisan investment in shoring up red flag laws and background checks, $13 billion expansion. And yet, in Virginia, both of the gun buyers legally purchased their weapons allegedly, so did the one in Colorado, what does that tell you about the efficacy of the federal law?
REP. JIM CLYBURN: Well, thank you very much for having me. It tells me all I need to know. And that is just because it’s legal, does not make it the right thing. I tell people all the time, the institution of slavery was legal, but it was not right. Just because they purchased these weapons legally, does not mean that’s what the law ought to be, we need to change these laws. Unfortunately, I’m gonna be here in my district on Wednesday, speaking at the funeral service of one of those young football players from the University of Virginia, who died at the hands of the weapon that was, from all indications, legally purchased. That’s not the problem. Chesapeake, Virginia, that gun was purchased, legally, the morning of the event. We have to visit these laws and do what’s necessary to keep these guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. And that is what we need to do in this lame duck session. And in a bipartisan way. Let’s protect the American people from demented people and make sure that we put some safety and security in people’s when they’re shopping when you’re sitting in churches–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. Well, what about that lame duck session because Democrats have control for a few more weeks. President Biden came out and said he wants to institute an assault weapons ban. An assault weapon, an AR-15 style was used in Colorado, but not in those two Virginia shootings. So is the problem that type of weapon and if that is the solution, you’re putting forward, how do you get 60 votes in the Senate?
REP. CLYBURN: Well, I don’t know how you get 60 votes in the Senate. And that’s why I always take issue with the fact we do not control the Senate. It’s 50/50 in the Senate. And that is a problem for us. We need to sit down in a bipartisan way and say, look, what can we do to protect the public. Nobody wants to take anybody’s guns away. Your second amendment is there to protect everybody. But so is the First Amendment, but there’s not unfettered–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, so what are you going to do in the lame duck? You just said in the lame duck, you have to take action? What does that mean? What are Democrats going to do?
REP. CLYBURN: Well, we’ve already passed the bills in the house. We’re trying to get the Senate to act. We’ve done this on the House side. So that’s the problem. Democrats control the House, and we passed the bill. We do not control the Senate. And that’s where the filibuster is causing this problem.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. And in the new Congress after January, is the prospect of any kind of gun reform dead on arrival, or can you pick off some votes from Kevin McCarthy’s caucus here to help move something when Democrats are in the minority?
REP. CLYBURN: Well, you know, if you look at the results of the election, you go to California, you go to New York, even in two districts in North Carolina, when we picked up seats, we do have a more moderate electorate coming in. And we need to appeal to a sense of fundamental fairness, and what is right. I have no idea whether or not they will (unintelligible) what seems to be controlling the Republicans, but we’re gonna give it a shot.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So White House adviser Anita Dunn was on this program a few weeks ago, and she said in the next few weeks, while Democrats have the majority, priority number one is just keeping the government funded. Exactly what is your top priority? I mean, what can Democrats get done before Republicans take control?
REP. CLYBURN: Well, I’ll agree with Anita Dunn, it’s always the top priority, keeping the government funded and keeping it open–
MARGARET BRENNAN: That seems the bare minimum.
REP. CLYBURN: The bare minimum, absolutely, but we need to go further than that. We need to look at the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. I’m not going to get off of that. I do believe that we need to do something about the Electoral College Reform Act. These two things are fundamental to our democracy. And we need to keep them in the forefront. Yes, keep the government open, but let’s also keep fundamental rights protected. And that to me would be one and two and these gun safety laws would be closely there after.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Democrats are holding leadership elections in the coming week, you’re already in leadership, I know you will be standing for election to a different position. But if it is time for a new generation as Speaker Pelosi had said, Why do you think it’s necessary for you to stay in power? Do you think the next generation needs you to guide them?
REP. CLYBURN: Well, I’ve always said there is a healthy respect, it’s Biblical with me. We need to have a healthy blend of strength and knowledge and look at our leadership. The South is left out of it and what I’m doing is trying to make sure that we do not tilt too far to the east or too far to the west. But maintain what we have here. There’s no other southerner among the leadership ranks and we need the south. We need these historically black colleges and universities. If it weren’t for Georgia, where would the Senate be today? And the last time I checked, Georgia is south of South Carolina.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Whip, for joining us today.