James Enos "Jim" Clyburn (born July 21, 1940) is the U.S. Representative for South Carolina's 6th congressional district, serving since 1993, and the Assistant Democratic Leader since 2011. He was previously House Majority Whip, serving in that post from 2007 to 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes Florence, Sumter and large portions of Columbia and Charleston.
As Assistant Democratic Leader, he is the third-ranking Democrat in the House behind House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
Early life, education, and early political career
Clyburn was born in Sumter, South Carolina, the son of Enos Lloyd Clyburn, a fundamentalist minister, and his wife Almeta (née Dizzley), a beautician. Republican South Carolina Congressman George W.
Murray, who served in the 53rd and 54th U.S. Congresses, was a distant relative of his. He attended South Carolina State College (now South Carolina State University) in Orangeburg where he was initiated into Omega Psi Phi fraternity and graduated with a bachelor's degree in history.
Clyburn taught at C.A. Brown High School in Charleston. After an unsuccessful run for the South Carolina General Assembly, he moved to Columbia to join the staff of Governor John C.
West in 1971, and become the first minority advisor to a South Carolina Governor. West appointed him the state's human affairs commissioner in 1974 in the aftermath of the Orangeburg massacre, a position which he held until 1992, when he stepped down to run for Congress.
U.S. House of Representatives
Following a Supreme Court mandate, the Florence-based 6th district was redrawn as a black-majority district. Five-term incumbent Robin Tallon opted to retire, and five black candidates ran for the Democratic nomination for the seat—the real contest in this overwhelmingly Democratic district. Clyburn secured 55% of the vote in the primary, eliminating the need for an expected run-off.
As expected, he won the general election in November. He has been reelected eight times, never facing a serious or well-funded challenger. From 1998 to 2006, his opponent was Gary McLeod, a strongly conservative Republican from Clarendon County.
Clyburn defeated Republican candidate Nancy Harrelson with 68%-32%.
Clyburn defeated Republican nominee Jim Pratt, 65% to 34%.
Clyburn is generally considered to be the most important African-American political leader in his home state.
He was elected as vice-chairman of the House Democratic Caucus in 2003, the third-ranking post in the caucus.
He became chairman in early 2006 after caucus chairman Bob Menendez was appointed to the Senate.
After the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the 2006 election, Clyburn was unanimously elected as Majority Whip in the 110th Congress. Clyburn would have faced a challenge from Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel, but Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi persuaded Emanuel to instead run for Democratic Caucus Chairman. Clyburn was interviewed by National Public Radio's Morning Edition on January 12, 2007, and acknowledged the difficulty of counting votes and rallying the fractious Democratic caucus, while his party held the majority in the House.
After the 2010 elections the Democrats lost their majority in the House. Assistant Leader would be created for Clyburn. The exact responsibilities of Clyburn's assistant leader office remain unclear, though it is said to replace the Assistant to the Leader post previously held by Chris Van Hollen, which enabled Van Hollen to be present at all leadership meetings but is not in the leadership hierarchy.
Departing Speaker Nancy Pelosi ran for the Minority Leader position in order to remain the House party leader, while Clyburn announced that he would challenge Steny Hoyer, currently the second-ranking Democrat in the House and the outgoing Majority Leader, for the Minority Whip post. Clyburn had the support of the Congressional Black Caucus who wanted to keep an Afro-American in the House leadership, while Hoyer had 35 public endorsements including three standing committee chairs. Ultimately, on November 13, Pelosi announced a deal whereby Hoyer would stand as Minority Whip, while a "number three" leadership position styled
Clyburn is regarded liberal in his political stances, actions and votes. A recent ranking by the National Journal listed him to be the 77th most liberal of all 435 US congressional representatives, and with a score of 81, indicating that the conductors of this study found his voting record to be more liberal than 81 percent of other members of the US House of Representatives based on their recent voting records.
Clyburn has an established liberal stance on health care, education, organized labor and environmental conservation issues, based on his legislative actions as well as evaluations and ratings by pertinent interest groups.
In 2009, Clyburn introduced the Access for All Americans Act.
The $26 billion sought by this Act would provide funding to quadruple the number of community health centers in the US that provide medical care to uninsured and low-income citizens.
The American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, The Children’s Health Fund and other health care interest groups rate Clyburn highly, based on his voting record on pertinent issues, while other groups in this field, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, give Clyburn ratings of zero.
Despite his opposition to partial-birth abortion, Clyburn is regarded to be pro-choice on the issue of abortion, as is made evident by his high ratings from the Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America organizations, and very low rating from the National Right to Life Committee.
For education, Clyburn has continuously sought new and additional funding. Included in the programs that Clyburn has successfully achieved additional funding for are special education and lower interest rates on federal student loans. In many sessions has Clyburn sought, sponsored and/or voted for improvements in Pell Grant funding.
The National Education Association and the National Association of Elementary School Principals rate Clyburn very high, as do other education interest groups.
Clyburn has consistently voted for increases in minimum wage income and to restrict employer interference with labor union organization.
Many national labor unions, including the AFL-CIO, the United Auto Workers, the Communication Workers Association and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, give Clyburn outstanding ratings based on his voting record on issues that pertain to labor and employment.
Clyburn has opposed legislation to increase offshore drilling for oil or natural gas. Instead, he has promoted use of nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels, cheaper than wind and solar energy.
Clyburn has continuously been viewed favorably by organizations such as the League of Conservation Voters and Defenders of Wildlife.
- War in Iraq
On July 31, 2007, Clyburn said in a broadcast interview that it would be a "real big problem" for the Democratic Party if General David Petraeus issued a positive report in September, as it would split the Democratic caucus on whether to continue to fund the Iraq War. While this soundbite caused some controversy, the full quote was, in reference to 47 member Blue Dog caucus, "I think there would be enough support in that group to want to stay the course and if the Republicans were to stay united as they have been, then it would be a problem for us."
During the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries, Clyburn supported Dick Gephardt until he dropped out of the race and afterwards supported John Kerry. He was one of the 31 who voted in the House not to count the electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election.
Throughout most of the 2008 presidential primary elections, Clyburn, a superdelegate, remained uncommitted.
He denounced Bill Clinton's remarks deprecating Barack Obama's win – with a clear majority – in the South Carolina primary (January 2008). Clinton had compared Obama's victory to Rev. Jesse Jackson's win in the 1988 primary election. "Black people are incensed all over this," said Clyburn. Clinton responded that the campaign "played the race card on me," denying any racial tone in the comment. Speaking with the New York Times, Clyburn said such actions could lead to a longtime division between the former president and his once most reliable constituency. "When he was going through his impeachment problems, it was the black community that bellied up to the bar," Clyburn said. "I think black folks feel strongly that this is a strange way for President Clinton to show his appreciation."
Clyburn eventually endorsed Obama on June 3, after Obama secured enough convention delegates in the South Dakota primary to secure his party's nomination.
Clyburn's eldest daughter, Mignon Clyburn, was appointed to the Federal Communications Commission by President Obama.
February 7th, 2012