House Minority Whip James Clyburn on Sunday said he was “absolutely” open to supporting Senator Joe Manchin‘s compromise proposal to include voter ID requirements in the Democratic-led election reform measure.
The South Carolina Democrat, who previously said voter ID elections requirements were a form of voter suppression, told CNN‘s Dana Bash on State of the Union that he’s “always for voter ID” that’s “equitable.”
“We are never for disproportionate voter ID. When you tell me that you got to have a photo ID and a photo for a student activity card is not good but for a hunting license it is good,” he said. “I don’t know of a single person who is against ID’ing themselves when they go to vote. But we don’t want you to tell me my ID is no good because I don’t own a gun and I don’t go hunting.”
His comments come as Democratic leaders have increasingly softened their opposition to the measure that has long been considered by activists as a way to limit minorities from voting.
Last month, former House member Stacey Abrams indicated her support for Manchin’s compromise deal and former President Barack Obama called the proposal nothing “particularly controversial.”
In recent years, eliminating or amending the Senate filibuster has gained momentum among Democrats as some in the party believe that too many important issues have been killed by the supermajority requirement. Senate Republicans dealt a blow to their colleagues across the aisle last month by sinking their election bill in a key test vote, which further highlighted the limits of Democrats’ razor-thin majority.
Manchin and other moderate Democrats oppose amending the filibuster and have pushed for a bipartisan approach to reform voting rights, but Clyburn strongly disagreed with their effort, telling Bash on Sunday: “We need to get rid of the filibuster for constitutional issues, just as we have done for budget issues.”
“We ought not be filibustering things like equal voting rights,” he said. “Senator Manchin, I like him a whole lot, we have talked about this. And I will say it once again senator, I am not against the filibuster, but you ought not be filibustering nobody—to filibuster anybody’s constitutional right.”
Voter ID requirements laws were relatively rare across America until Republican-led state legislatures began to adopt the requirement over the past two decades. In 2020, 36 states had voter ID laws, nearly triple the number of states in 2000.
Additionally, Republicans have moved to expand voter ID requirements for mail-in voting in some restrictive state election bills passed since President Joe Biden won against former President Donald Trump last November.
Newsweek reached out to Manchin’s office for comment. This story will be updated with any response.