Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell mocked the idea of a federal Election Day holiday as a “political power grab” that doesn’t even “pass the laugh test” the Washington Post reports. McConnell’s remarks, which McConnell made from the Senate floor Wednesday, came in response to H.R. 1, the Democrats’ first and most central legislation since retaking the House of Representatives in the midterms. The legislation is titled the “For the People” act and contains a number of provisions including making it easier for Americans to vote, reducing the power of money in politics, and holding public officials accountable for working in the public interest.
With respect to voting, the bill would make Election Day a holiday for federal workers while at the same time encouraging private employers to do the same. McConnell characterized the idea as another paid holiday for government workers and bureaucrats, paid for at the expense of taxpayers. The bill would indeed provide paid time off for federal workers and give them an opportunity to work at polling locations.
“Just what America needs, a bunch of government workers being paid to go out and work for I assume…our colleagues on the other side, on their campaigns,” McConnell said.
In response to the voting provisions of the H.R. 1, McConnell accused Democrats of looking out for their own political best interests rather than acting out of concern for the country.
“So this is the Democrats’ plan to ‘restore democracy,'” he said, calling the legislation “a political power grab that’s smelling more and more like what it is.”
Democrats were quick to criticize McConnell’s response, with many taking to social media to decry his perspective as undemocratic. Many argued that he was acting out of a Republican desire to reduce the number of Americans voting for a presumed benefit to the Republican Party.
Voting is a power grab. By citizens. https://t.co/3DwKc3htjv
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 30, 2019
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joined the fray himself, tweeting, “Why are Republicans always afraid of making it easier for Americans to vote?”
With the new Democratic majority, the legislation could very well pass the House. With Republicans remaining in control of the Senate, however, McConnell as Senate Majority Leader could choose not to bring it to a vote at all.
Still, the Democrats continue to press the issue.
“You could stamp on this thing ‘McConnell rejected,’ and it would immediately give it more credibility because everything that he has done over the last few years to undermine democracy are the things that we are trying to respond to here,” said Democratic Representative John Sarbanes.