To House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, President Joe Biden’s Friday trip to South Carolina is more than an ally’s visit to a crucial early-voting state. It’s a manifestation of the decades-long relationship between the two powerful Democrats, in a place that’s played a pivotal role in cementing both of their legacies.
Biden is addressing December graduates at South Carolina State University, a historically Black school in Orangeburg. It’s the alma mater of Clyburn, the top-ranking Black member of Congress and South Carolina’s only congressional Democrat.
The president’s visit comes at a fraught time for his agenda, with the future of his $2 trillion social and environmental spending package in doubt. While Democrats had hoped to make progress on the bill before Christmas, continued disagreements among lawmakers have all but halted negotiations, and Biden himself has signaled Democrats should shift their focus to passing a voting rights bill — another heavy lift in the evenly-divided Senate.