Clyburn: Minorities Could Tip Scales in Elections

Posted October 6, 2010 at 11:42am

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) suggested Wednesday that Congress could enact a public health insurance option and energy legislation next year if minorities turn out to vote and Democrats retain control of Congress.

Clyburn and Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.), speaking on a conference call, made an explicit plea to minority communities to vote for Democrats on Nov. 2. They warned that the Republican “Pledge to America” would cost 1 million jobs, slash Pell grants for students, reopen the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole, kick sick children off of their parents’ health care plans and wipe out other hard-earned victories in the health care reform bill.

“I think that this election is seminal,” Clyburn said. “We have got to get the minority communities engaged in this process.”

Clyburn said that if minority turnout is high, Democrats could expand on the positive changes already made to the nation’s health care system.

“Next year we could get the public option or get single payer,” he said. “I want us to really keep in mind it is important to future generations to energize this vote before the November elections.”

Clyburn and Becerra acknowledged that some minority communities, including Hispanics, are frustrated by the inability to get legislation through the Senate.

But Clyburn likened the situation to 1964, after Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, noting that it wasn’t until 1965 that Congress passed the Voting Rights Act and other legislation.

Clyburn pointed to the 400 or so bills passed by the House that have stalled in the Senate, including the cap-and-trade energy bill, as a blueprint of the Democratic agenda next year, as well as tax cuts for the middle class.

“Look at just the energy, small business, tax policies,” Clyburn said of the Democratic agenda. “We will be coming back in the next Congress starting all over again. … That’s our agenda.”

Becerra said the GOP’s agenda failed to address critical problems such as trade loopholes that encourage jobs to be shipped overseas.

“When you take a look at this pledge, it is nothing better than a 2-by-4 wrapped around your head,” he said.

The GOP countered that Democrats have presided over a rising unemployment rate for minorities in particular.

“The job-killing policies of this Congress are stifling prosperity and dimming the future across the demographic spectrum, but particularly amongst minorities,” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for the GOP’s pledge project. “The pledge offers renewed economic certainty and greater opportunity for all Americans.”