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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday slammed House Democrats’ sweeping election reform bill as “exactly the wrong response” to what he called the “distressing lack of faith in our elections,” saying Democrats want to use their “temporary power” to “try to ensure they’ll never have to relinquish it.”
All House Democrats on Monday signed onto the bill — H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021 — which they claim will expand voting rights and “clean up corruption” in politics.
From the Senate floor Thursday, McConnell, R-Ky., hit Democrats for trying to “recycle failed legislation” that would have Washington Democrats “grab unprecedented power over how America conducts its elections and how American citizens can engage in political speech.”
“For several years now, we’ve seen the political left grow less interested in having normal policy debates within our governing institutions, and more interested in attacking the institutions themselves to tilt the playing field in their side’s favor,” McConnell said. “When their side loses a presidential election, it’s not Democrats’ fault, but the Electoral College’s. When they don’t like a Supreme Court decision, it’s time to threaten the Justices or pack the Court. When long-standing Senate rules threaten to frustrate far-left proposals, it’s the Senate rules they want to change.”
McConnell added that “now, even after winning the presidency and narrow majorities in both chambers, the Democrats are not content to just make arguments, advance policies, and behave like a normal majority.”
“No – they want to try to use their slim majorities to unilaterally rewrite and nationalize election law itself,” he said, adding that Democrats want “to use the temporary power the voters have granted them to try to ensure they’ll never have to relinquish it.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previously pushed the bill in the last Congress.
The bill is expected to be considered on the House floor during the first week of March. Republicans have argued it would give the federal government more power in deciding the people’s representation.
According to Democrats, the bill would “improve access to the ballot box” by creating an automatic voter registration across the country and by ensuring that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full voting rights restored. The bill will also expand early voting and enhance absentee voting by simplifying voting by mail.
The legislation also “ensures that American elections are decided by American voters” by enhancing federal support for voting system security, specifically with regard to paper ballots, and also by increasing oversight of election system vendors and by requiring the “development of a national strategy to protect U.S. democratic institutions.”
McConnell slammed the legislation, saying it “would take prudential questions about early voting, registration, and no-excuse absentee balloting and resolve them one way for the entire nation.”
“They want to force all 50 states to allow the absurd practice of ballot harvesting, where paid operatives can show up at polling places carrying a thick stack of filled-out ballots with other people’s names on them,” he said. “They want to forbid states from implementing voter I.D. or doing simple things like checking their voter rolls against change-of-address submissions. They want to mandate no-excuse, mail-in balloting as a permanent norm, post-pandemic.”
He added: “This sweeping federal takeover would be exactly the wrong response to the distressing lack of faith in our elections that we’ve recently seen from both political sides.”
McConnell pointed to Americans doubting the “validity” of election results after both the 2016 and 2020 elections.
“As recently as late last September, only a minority of Democrats said they were confident the 2020 presidential election would be ‘free and fair.’ Just weeks later, by mid-November, once things had gone the way they wanted, Democrats’ confidence magically skyrocketed up to 90%,” he said.
TUCKER: DEMOCRATS’ SWEEPING ‘FOR THE PEOPLE ACT’ WOULD ‘ENSHRINE FRAUD,’ AS LAWMAKERS SEEK TO STIFLE DISSENT
“We cannot keep trending toward a future where Americans’ confidence in elections is purely a function of which side won,” McConnell continued. “A sweeping power grab by House Democrats, forcibly rewriting 50 states’ election laws, would shove us farther and faster down that path.”
He added: “In this country, if the people who win elections want to hold onto power, they need to perform well, pass sound policies and earn the support of the voters again.”
McConnell said House Democrats “do not get to take their razor-thin majority” to “steamroll states and localities to try to prevent themselves from losing even more seats next time.”
“Protecting democracy cannot be a partisan issue,” McConnell said.
The bill also seeks to “end the dominance of big money in our policies” and aims to shine “a light on dark money in politics” by upgrading online political ad disclosure and requiring all organizations involved in political activity to disclose their large donors.
The bill also “breaks the so-called ‘nesting-doll’ sham that allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide the true funding source of their political spending” and “strengthens the political power of hardworking Americans by creating a multiple matching system for small donations.”
The matching system “will be completely paid for by a new surcharge on corporate law breakers and wealthy tax cheats” in an effort to “bear the cost of building a more just and equitable democracy.”
The bill also reaffirms Congress’ authority to regulate money in politics, pushing back on the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision.
Meanwhile, the bill seeks to “fortify ethics law” by breaking the “influence economy in Washington” and increases accountability by expanding conflict-of-interest laws and divestment requirements in an effort to slow the “revolving door” and prevent members of Congress from serving on corporate boards.
The bill, also, in a swipe at former President Donald Trump, requires presidents to disclose their tax returns — something Trump did not do while in office.
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The legislation would also close loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents and ensure that watchdogs have “sufficient resources” to enforce the law.
Republican opposition was also fierce during the last session, when House Democrats first introduced the legislation. At the time, McConnell labeled it the “Democrat Politician Protection Act” and said in an op-ed that Democrats were seeking to “change the rules of American politics to benefit one party.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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