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Transcript: Congressman James Clyburn on "Face the Nation," January 30, 2022

Clyburn on what it would mean to have a Black woman on Supreme Court
Clyburn discusses what it would mean to have a Black woman on the Supreme Court 07:39

The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina that aired Sunday, January 30, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Democratic Whip Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina. Good morning to you Congressmen. You've been vocal in your endorsement of Federal District Judge Michelle Childs the White House acknowledged she's being looked at. Senator Graham just gave her a glowing recommendation. Have you spoken to President Biden about her? 

HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP JIM CLYBURN: Yes, I did it several months ago. I have not spoken to him recently about her, sent him or sent the White House a letter 13 months ago. 


REP. CLYBURN: And he and I have been talking about it for several months.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You and I are going to talk about her and the whole process more in just a moment. But I have to hit this quick commercial break and we'll have an extended conversation on the other side of it. So stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face the Nation. We continue our conversation with Democratic Whip, Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina. Good morning. Thank you for sticking with us through that break.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You had just shared that you'd spoken to President Biden months ago with Michelle Childs, a candidate we know for this potential spot on the Supreme Court. More broadly, you were the man who really exacted this promise during the campaign from President Biden. What do you think putting this kind of diversity on the court the first black woman does for the country?

REP. CLYBURN: Well, it says to every little child up there growing up under moderate circumstances, needing the entire community help raise it, getting scholarships to go up to school because she couldn't afford to go otherwise, going to public schools because you didn't get an offer from one of the big private schools. It says to them, you've got just as much of a chance to benefit from the greatness of this country as everybody else. As you probably know, I have made it the motto of my service; making America's greatness accessible and affordable for all Americans. And that's what this will do. That's the kind of conversation I had with candidate Biden way back when he was running for president. In fact, we had those conversations when he was serving as vice president that he came up under modest circumstances- Scranton, Pennsylvania, then in Delaware. And look, he should have as much opportunity as everybody else. 


REP. CLYBURN: That's one of the things that drawed me to him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we know the president has said he will make his pick public by the end of February. That fits right nicely with that March 1st State of the Union address. As Whip, what else are you going to be able to deliver to the president to- to sort of announce that date? Can you revive any portion of build back better, which is completely stalled at the moment.

REP. CLYBURN: I hope we can. It's possible the opponents of the big package have talked about things that they can support. For instance, child tax credit. Joe Manchin has made it very clear that if we were to meet- make it means tested that he could agree to it. So that's the means test it. He's already said that he agrees with us closing the so-called coverage gap, so that those people who are eligible for Medicaid or in states that cannot- did not expand the Medicaid, that they will have health care. So if we can do those things, let's do them. I'm not-


REP. CLYBURN: I'm sorry?


REP. CLYBURN: Yes, we can do that by March 1st. You can do it next week. We go back all this week. We go back on Tuesday. What I'm talking about could be done in several days, if not several hours.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be watching for that. I want to ask you about something

REP. CLYBURN:I didn't say I was going to be done. (LAUGHTER) It can be done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will watch you to see if it actually will be done, sir. You've repeatedly said that black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party. And you've talked about this Supreme Court nomination as the kind of things that Democrats may need. You know, the failure to get voting rights legislation passed, the failure to agree on a police reform bill. Do you feel that Democrats need this nomination and that it will make a difference going into the midterms, given these other promises were not delivered on?

REP. CLYBURN: As- I certainly do believe that. I believed that two years ago, it is why I advised then Candidate Biden to put that into his campaign. And you recall the first time he ever said that was at the South Carolina debate the 25th of February-

MARGARET BRENNAN: I remember I was there. 

REP. CLYBURN - 0f 2020. OK. Well, I advised that. Now a lot of people told him not to do it. But his guts told him as he told me, when you grow up with the kind of experience the two of us have had, then your guts telling you some things, and sometimes people did not have those experiences they would not feel. So he did it, and it made all the difference in the world and it's still making a big difference.

MARGARET BRENNAN:  Well, talking about those midterms and the need for a win here, I want to ask you about Jamie Harrison, the head of the Democratic Party, right now. I know he worked for you for years on Capitol Hill. You're close to him. You're a mentor. He's reportedly considering leaving that job ahead of the midterm races because of disagreements with the White House. Do you think the DNC needs new leadership?

REP. CLYBURN: I do not. I think he is exactly what we need for this party at this particular juncture. I also know he like all of us in this business. He has his detractors. I have mine. It doesn't mean that he is wrong or they are wrong. It means that people have different approaches to doing things. And so Jamie Harrison is there. He will never run. He believes in fighting rather than switching.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are being very diplomatic in your answer there. Back in November, you told the AP, "Jaime Harrison knows how to do the job. I fear he may not be allowed to do the job. He's being hamstrung by people who never ran for anything." Who are those people whose standing in his way?

REP. CLYBURN: I'm not going to name those people, I think it's not-

MARGARET BRENNAN:Is it the White House?

REP. CLYBURN: No, I'm not saying who it is, I am saying that all of us, I had the same problem every time I run for election, talking to my grandson just yesterday, telling me what he thought I ought to do now. I said now, when is the last time you've been out asking anybody for their vote? So we do not necessarily believe in all of the consultants and the people who run things. Jamie Harrison ran a very bruising race with the gentleman you just had on here. He knows what it is to run. He knows what it is to lose. And I'm the same way I lost three times before I got elected. So I know what it is to lose an election and I know what is to come back from the election. So Jamie Harrison is just what we need.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, congressman, thank you for your time today.

REP. CLYBURN Thank you very much for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back in a moment.

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