February 1, 2019
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said on December 30 that a Democratic bill (HR.1) that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a “partisan power grab.”
In an online statement, McConnell said he would fight the bill because, “…when Washington politicians suddenly decide their top priority is grabbing unprecedented control over how they get elected and sent to Washington in the first place, alarm bells should start ringing all over the place. After all, Article I, Section IV of the Constitution clearly gives state legislatures primary responsibility for—quote—the ‘Times, Places, and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives.’
However, the Majority Leader failed to add that the same section of the Constitution grants that “Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Chusing [sic] Senators.”
In his remarks, McConnell asserted that, with the highest turnouts ever in recent elections, this is not the time “in American history when it has come to that,” adding, “…There is no objective basis for the sweeping federal takeover of elections that House Democrats have dreamed up. No emergency. It’s just a Washington D.C. power grab for its very own sake.”
According to a report by The Washington Post, the far-reaching legislation also would:
- Prohibit the purging of voter rolls,
- Require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to release their tax returns,
- Compel states to adopt independent redistricting commissions, and
- Create a matching system for small-dollar donations to congressional campaigns, among other changes.
In his Wednesday remarks, as well as in a Washington Post op-ed earlier this month, McConnell mocked the legislation as the “Democrat Politician Protection Act.”
“H.R. 1 would victimize every American taxpayer by pouring their money into expensive new subsidies that don’t even pass the laugh test,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
His remarks prompted a wave of criticism by Democrats, some of whom argued that McConnell was acknowledging that Republicans want to make it more difficult for Americans to vote.
“Voting is a power grab. By citizens,” Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) posted in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) shared a link to a story about McConnell’s comments and tweeted, “Why are Republicans always afraid of making it easier for Americans to vote?”
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