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House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., chairs the Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, which heard testimony Friday from top U.S. health officials about the status of the pandemic. Clyburn joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the hearing, plus his views on providing additional economic relief to struggling Americans and the importance of having a Black woman as Joe Biden's running mate.
Let's take a closer look now at the pandemic response from Capitol Hill with the chair of the Coronavirus Oversight Committee.
I spoke this afternoon about that and other matters with Democratic Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, who is also the House majority whip.
Representative Clyburn, thank you very much for joining us.
Your special subcommittee held a hearing this morning. You heard from top health officials in the Trump administration, and you called on them to make drastic changes in the administration approach to this pandemic, or you said another 150,000 Americans could die.
What changes do you want to see the administration make?
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.:
Well, thank you very much for having me.
First of all, I do believe that the administration has had the kind of a program that I would like to see, but they seem to be pushing that out to the states privately.
I want them to go to a national program. I want that would be well-coordinated, based upon science.
Do you think they will do that?
Rep. James Clyburn:
I don't know if they will do it or not.
But I think the testimony today was very clear. Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield, Admiral Giroir, I don't disagree with a thing that they're saying. But it just seems to me that they are really working together. It's just not getting out to the states.
President Trump, as you may know, Representative Clyburn, tweeted during the hear hearing. And he said this about you.
He said — quote — "Somebody please tell Congressman Clyburn, who" in his words, "doesn't have a clue, that the chart he put up indicating more cases for the U.S. than Europe is because we do much more testing than any other country in the world. If we had no testing or bad testing, we'd show very few cases."
How do you respond?
I respond like the experts responded.
Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redfield, all of them say, very succinctly, that this surge in additional infections has little to do with one thing only. It's a plethora of things that are taking place. So, the testing would not account for this increase.
This increase comes about because we were doing about 50 percent of what other countries were doing. In other words, if people had masks or shields, if people will recognize social distancing, that there might be a different thing.
But when you have got the president making fun of wearing a mask, not doing any social distancing, not setting an example for the rest of the country, that is what the problem is.
So, the testing has — is just one part of it. The other part is whether or not we adhere to what the scientists say is required for driving the numbers down.
Let me ask you about COVID relief legislation.
The White House chief of, Mark Meadows, said this morning that Republicans had made four separate proposals to the Democrats on some kind of compromise. They said every single one of them has been turned down, and with no counterproposal.
My question is, Mr. Clyburn, why not just agree — among other things, they have suggested a short-term extension. Why not at least agree to a short-term extension, so that these $600 in additional unemployment benefits will continue and won't lapse?
Well, I can appreciate the fact, and I hope you appreciate, I'm not in the room. I have no idea whether or not what — Mr. Meadows would be reflecting accurately what is going on in the — these negotiations.
But I will say this. I do believe that we cannot allow people to lose their homes. We can't allow renters to be put on the streets. We cannot allow unemployment — unemployed people to lose their insurance. We need to keep people with income, so that we can keep this economy going.
So, what Mr. Meadows said, I don't know. I'm not one of the negotiators, so I'm not going to pass judgment on that at all.
Mr. Clyburn, as you know, Democrats are making a major push right now for more access to mail-in voting.
Yesterday, at Congressman John Lewis' funeral, former President Obama spoke about it, said — was very critical of Republican efforts, in his words, to deny any votes.
Today, we had the White House adviser Stephen Miller saying that what President Obama said was scandalously and outrageously false. He said that Republicans are not trying to do any such thing.
Where do you come down on this?
I think everybody knows that I have forever been for what I call voting from home.
When we ask people to stay at home, we ought to make it available for them to vote from home. And for some, that may be mail. For some, that may be dropping off their vote at some predesignated place. We ought to be making it available for people to vote, when they don't have a gathering.
People ought not be standing in line, as they did in Wisconsin, when people came away sick. We can arrange to pay for people to vote while being socially distanced.
That's what I'm for. And for some people, it might be mailed in. I do mail-in voting every year that we vote, because I always have to work on Election Day. And so I mail my ballot in.
And the president seems to say there's something different with voting absentee than voting my mail. I mailed my absentee in. So what's the difference? There is no difference.
And I think that Stephen Miller ought to be ashamed of himself.
And one other thing Mr. Miller said this morning, he said, it's shocking that nobody who mails in a ballot has their identity confirmed. He said nobody checks to see even if they're a U.S. citizen.
We can check to see anything we want to check to see. Bar coding has been with us forever. I don't know where he's been.
But you can always bar code every ballot to know whether or not the proper person cast that ballot. It's never been any kind of a problem. They have done research on mail-in ballots.
There's one state, I know, and I think there may be several states that vote 100 percent by mail. So, what's — nobody has ever found any fraud and abuse of that.
They are just trying to cloud the issue. They're looking for some way to try to postpone this election. They're looking for some way not to have an election.
I have been saying now for about three years that this president doesn't plan to have an election. He's not planning to give up the office. He thinks that the American people will be duped by him, like the people of Germany was duped by Adolf Hitler.
One final thing, Representative Clyburn.
Vice President Biden, as you know, is saying he's going to announce next week which woman he has chosen to be his running mate.
You have said you think it would be a plus, but not a must, for Joe Biden to choose an African American woman.
My question to you, though, is with the — what we have seen happen in this country over the last few months, the push for racial justice, the sensitivity around racial justice, do you not think it would be better if he chose an African American woman as his running mate?
I still maintain it would be a plus.
I do believe that it is a little bit foolhardy for us to be focusing on the vice presidential choice, rather than other things as well.
I long for an African American woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court. It's a shame that we have had three women to sit on the United States Supreme Court, and no one has ever given the kind of consideration that is due to an African American woman.
That, to me, is priority.
The V.P. is good on style, but, on substance, give me an African American woman on the Supreme Court. That's where we determine how our democracy will be preserved.
This Supreme Court has neutered the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And so I am very concerned about the composition of the United States Supreme Court.
House Majority Whip Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, thank you very much.
Thanks for having me.
And this evening, there are new reports that Joe Biden will announce his pick for running mate the week of August 10.
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