‘We cannot afford to go further down this road. We should be finding ways to rebuild trust. Not destroy it further. But that’s exactly what a partisan power grab would guarantee. And that’s what S. 1 is all about.’
March 24, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today at the Rules Committee hearing on S. 1:
“Madam Chair, Senator Blunt, thanks for this important hearing.
“From what the Majority Leaders just said, the state bills that he refers to only two of them have passed, and they had nothing to do with suppressing the vote.
“It’s also noteworthy that this is a solution in search of a problem. Turnout in 2020 was up 7%. Turnout in the 2020 election was the highest since 1900. States are not engaging in trying to suppress voters, whatsoever. This is, clearly, an effort by one party to rewrite the rules of our political system.
“But even more immediately, it would create an implementation nightmare, as Senator Blunt pointed out, that would drown the state and local officials who run elections.
“This proposal needs all the scrutiny it can get and I’m glad we are all here to give it.
“This legislation would forcibly rewrite the election laws of all 50 states from here in Washington.
“Popular policies like Voter I.D. requirements would be banned, unless states neutered them with loopholes.
“Meanwhile, unpopular and absurd practices like ballot harvesting, where paid political operatives can show up carrying stacks of other people’s ballots, would not just be allowed — they’d be mandatory.
“Washington would mandate that every state and county in America adopt same-day voter registration with minimal safeguards…
“…but would make it incredibly difficult for states and counties to conduct routine voter list maintenance, like removing dead people or voters who’ve moved away.
“Then there is the whole question of political speech.
“Refereeing campaigns and policing speech are sensitive tasks. Appropriately the FEC was designed after Watergate to be bipartisan — an even split, 3 to 3.
“After Watergate, my party, the Republican Party, was just about wiped out. The overwhelming Democratic majorities could have done anything they wanted to. It never occurred to them that the Federal Election Commission, set up to police how we run campaigns, would be a partisan entity.
“Now we’re in a 50-50 Senate, and a narrow majority in the House, and this audacious move wants to turn the judge of our democratic process into a partisan prosecutor.
“Talk about shame. If anybody ought to be feeling any shame around here, it’s for turning the FEC into a partisan prosecutor — the majority controlled by the President’s party — to harass and intimidate the other side. That’s what you ought to be ashamed about.
“Over in the House Admin. Committee, we are having an example right now of how that could happen. The Democratic majority is trying to overturn a certified election result.
“I want to ask how many of our friends on the other side here, we were just arguing last month and the month before that certifying a state election was the gold standard. It’s over after certification. Apparently not in the house.
“Of course the constitution gives the House the power to determine who will sit there. That doesn’t mean they should go against everything they’ve been preaching for the last two months about the sanctity of state certification and simply ran through someone who lost the election, according to officials in Iowa.
“That’s what happens when you let partisan bodies regulate elections. And that is certainly not what we need at the FEC and that’s what, among other things, you ought to be ashamed about.
“This bill would also expand the scope of this newly-partisan FEC.
“More power over more of Americans’ speech. More mandates for private groups to publicize their lists of supporters.
“Associational privacy is a core liberty. It’s been championed heroically by organizations like the NAACP. This bill is such an attack on citizens’ privacy that even the left-wing ACLU opposes this bill.
“These are big-picture problems. But on a practical level, even if you disagree with everything I just said, the fact is: this legislation is not ready for primetime. It’s an invitation to chaos.
“State-level elections officials, including Democrats, are sounding alarms left and right. This messaging bill would create a nightmare if it actually became law.
“It would mandate brand-new voting machines that have not even been produced yet, let alone certified and approved.
“It would force every state to rush through big changes — like inventing new, unsecure, automated telephone systems to register voters. I’m sure prank callers would have a field day with that.
“This thing even has something to say about the paper on which local officials would be able to print their ballots and the kind of envelope adhesive they have to use. That’s a really important thing for the federal government to dictate: what kind of adhesive they have to use. What a great idea.
“Just the prospect of all these silly new mandates is already keeping local officials up at night, and that includes Democratic local officials who conduct elections.
“This thing would even put American taxpayers on the hook for transfer payments, don’t be kidded into thinking there’s no federal money in this bill, transfer payments that would go directly to fund political campaigns. Taxpayer-funded bumper stickers and attack ads. What a great idea. American people are really going to like that. Taking their money and spending it on attack ads and bumper stickers, buttons, and balloons.
“Even liberals who like this bill better than I do are admitting all the practicalities need to go back to the drawing board.
“This is nowhere near ready for prime time. It’s an invitation to total chaos.
“I’ll close with this. Senator Klobuchar, I had your job after the 2000 election. Chris Dodd and I teamed up and passed the Help America Vote Act.
“It was a major voting bill.
“What it did was to try to encourage making it easier to vote, but harder to cheat. It was a combination of things. Well balanced. Some of us were colleagues back in 2002 when I wrote the Help America Vote Act with Senator Dodd.
“It passed the Senate 92 to 2. That’s the kind of consensus that can be built when you approach a subject, like the one that’s before us today, in the right way.
“By contrast, this bill did not receive a single Republican vote in the House and I predict it will not in the Senate should we, unfortunately, have to vote on it.
“Both Republicans and Democrats voted against it in the House.
“Now, we’ve just seen two consecutive presidential elections, 2016 and 2020, where chunks of Americans on both the left and right took turns refusing to accept the result when their side lost.
“We cannot afford to go further down this road.
“We should be finding ways to rebuild trust. Not destroy it further.
“But that’s exactly what a partisan power grab would guarantee. And that’s what S. 1 is all about.”