McConnell at S. 1 Markup: “We Aren’t Going to Let One Party Take Over Our Democracy”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today at the Senate Rules Committee S.1 Markup:

“Madam Chairman, we’ll hear a lot of flowery language today, including my friend and colleague the Majority Leader. But we all learned early in life if you can write the rules, you can win the game.

“For multiple years now, Democrats have called this sweeping bill their top priority. You just heard the Majority Leader make a totally partisan speech about this. There’s nothing bipartisan about this. This was cooked up at the Democratic National Committee and designed to advantage one side to the disadvantage of the other.

“The substance of the legislation has hardly changed. But the supposed rationales for it have changed constantly.

“In 2016, American voters made a presidential decision that Democrats did not like. This legislation was cooked up and presented as a massive overhaul, an emergency repair job for a broken democracy.

“Last autumn, voters made a decision that Democrats liked better. Suddenly their side stopped calling our democracy broken. Now our democracy was beyond reproach. But curiously enough, Democrats still want the exact same sweeping bill, just as desperately.

“The truth is simple:

“Our democracy is not in crisis, and we aren’t going to let one party take over our democracy under the false pretense of saving it.

“Voter turnout last November blew 2016 and 2008 out of the water. The 2020 election saw the highest turnout in decades.

“The hysterical attacks that the political left has thrown at a new election law in Georgia, for example, have been thoroughly debunked by fact-checkers. African-American turnout last fall was twice as high in Mississippi as it was in Massachusetts.

“None of the shifting, made-up rationales for this sweeping set of changes hold any water.

“So why are my friends on the other side so desperate to push it through? Why are Democrats so hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to re-wire our democracy on a partisan basis?

“Well, let’s look at the bill.

“This legislation would let Washington Democrats dictate the terms of their own reelection races by rewriting all 50 states’ election laws.

“Popular safeguards like Voter I.D. would be neutered. Ludicrous practices like ballot harvesting would be made mandatory, coast to coast.

“Democrats have a narrow majority in the House and a 50-50 Senate, but they want to make themselves the Board of Elections for every county and state in America.

“Voting regulations are just the start.

“This legislation would deliberately turn the Federal Elections Commission into a partisan Democrat panel. They want their own side enforcing election law, on their own, unilaterally.

“It would authorize federal bureaucrats to poke around in a much broader slice of private citizens’ free speech.

“It would attack Americans’ privacy rights to such an extreme degree that even the liberal ACLU is sounding alarm bells on this bill.

“It would have the federal government take public money and send it directly to political campaigns — so Americans can subsidize robo-calls, junk mail, and TV ads for candidates they disagree with.

“So, the marketing changes constantly. This has gone from an election security bill to an ethics bill to a racial justice bill.

“Who knows how it’ll be labeled tomorrow?

“But the substance doesn’t change because the intention doesn’t change. The Democratic Party wants to rewrite the ground rules of American politics for partisan benefit.

“It’s hard to imagine anything that would erode public confidence in our democracy more drastically. This bill had purely partisan support in the House. It had bipartisan opposition.

“It’s one thing to make fiscal policy that way; to use reconciliation to tax and spend. It’s very different to try to hot-wire our democracy itself without a single vote from the other side.

“These are issues we’ve tackled together in the past.

“I was first chair and then ranking member with Chris Dodd in 2001 and 2002. We passed the Help America Vote Act with 90 votes. The slogan then was: ‘make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.’

“On a bipartisan basis we resisted the pleas of some to federalize every aspect of how we handled elections. We set up the Federal Election Administration Act. We provided money to help states upgrade their equipment. But we deliberately did not seek to dictate how they handle elections.

“That’s how you pass a bill related to how the two parties compete. Together. Not on a totally partisan basis.

“That’s how you strengthen our democracy. If this bill were to pass nobody would have any confidence in it. None whatsoever.

“Let’s call it what it is. Put aside the flowery language. This is a partisan effort to take over how you conduct elections in our country.”