Chuck Schumer in angry Senate clash with Mitch McConnell as he tells him Republican bills that roll back early voting ‘smack of Jim Crow’
- The two party leaders clashed at hearing Wednesday on Senate election bill
- McConnell bashed it as a power play by Democrats
- Schumer ripped state election efforts as making it harder for minorities to vote
- He compared proposals to Jim Crow voter suppression in the South
- McConnell pointed to record turnout in 2020 and denied such efforts
- The massive S. 1 bill could provoke a clash over Senate rules if GOP filibusters it
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer on Wednesday denounced Republican efforts in statehouses to roll back efforts to boost early voting and ease registration – comparing the efforts to Jim Crow efforts to suppress black voters.
Schumer tore into his colleagues at the start of a Rules Committee hearing on a sweeping 800-page voting rights bill, casting the new election efforts as undemocratic and tying them to efforts to racial oppression following Reconstruction.
‘Shame, shame, shame!’ he intoned after describing state efforts since the November elections, when Republicans lost the White House and the Senate – but maintained a lock on the majority of state legislatures which set voting rules.
‘Shame, shame, shame!’ said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer at a hearing, where he called on Senate Republicans to deny proposals to change voting laws in Georgia and Arizona
Schumer pointed to a series of legislative efforts bubbling up in Georgia and other states.
‘Our country has come a long way supposedly since African Americans in the South were forced to guess guess the number of jellybeans in a jar in order to vote, but some of these voter suppression laws in Georgia and other Republican states, smack of Jim Crow rearing its ugly head once again, ‘Schumer said.
He also tore into legislative efforts in Arizona, which like Georgia is a state Joe Biden won where Donald Trump challenged the vote.
‘In Arizona, no fewer than 22 separate measures to limit voting rights have been introduced, including a bill to require every absentee ballot to be notarized,’ Schumer said. How are people going to pay for a notary? When there’s virtually no indication of fraud? It’s one of the most despicable things I have seen in all my years. Shame. Shame. Shame!’ he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the voting rights legislation an ‘atrocity’
What’s in the Democrats’ sweeping ‘For the People’ voting rights bill?
The sweeping voting rights bill is a companion to a bill that passed the House. It was introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley, Amy Klobuchar, and Charles Schumer. The bill is cosponsored by almost the entire Senate Democratic caucus, with only Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) not on board with it (he says he likes parts of it).
The bill makes a raft of changes to state and federal elections oversight.
– Requires state officials to implement automatic voter registration
– Felons get their voting rights restored after serving their sentences
– Requires same-day voting registration on Election Day
– Requires all PACs to disclose their donors
– Expands mail-in ballots of the kind that proliferated in 2020
– Mandates 15 days of early voting
– Places restrictions on contacts between campaigns and foreign governments
– Restructures the Federal Elections Commission to give if five commissioners, rather than six, with no more than two from the same party. A bipartisan panel would recommend nominees. Mitch McConnell says it would give Biden effective control of the 3-2 body
– Clamps down on purges of voting rolls
– Creates a public funding matching system for smaller donations on the first $200 of a contribution
– Requires states to set up independent redistricting commissions in an effort to end partisan gerrymandering, which courts have allowed so long as other forms of discrimination aren’t driving it
– Prohibits using non-returned mail as reason to strike voters from the rolls
– Requires prepaid postage for voting materials
– Prohibits the top state election officials from taking part in campaigns
– Makes universities voter registration agencies
‘Other things in Arizona: two bills to ban automatic voter registration and same day registration, even though neither practice exists in Arizona, and the most reprehensible effort of all my team found in Georgia, where Republicans recently passed a bill to eliminate early voting on Sunday.
‘On Sunday, the day when many churchgoing African Americans participate in voter drives known as Souls to the Polls. What an astonishing coincidence outlawed voting on a day when African American churches sponsor get out the vote efforts. I’d like one of the Republican members of this committee to give us a plain sense justification for that restriction,’ he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who like Schumer spoke at the hearing on the Democratic voting rights bill, S. 1, pointedly rejected the charge.
‘The state bills that he refers to, I believe Sen. [Roy] Blunt has mentioned, only two of them have passed, and they had absolutely nothing to do with suppressing the vote.’
He called the effort ‘a solution in search of a problem.’
‘Turnout in 2020 was up 7 per cent. The turnout in the 2020 election was the highest since 1900. States are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever,’ he said. ‘This is clearly an effort by one party to rewrite the rules of our political system.’
He also said the federal bill being pushed by Democratic leaders would ‘create an implementation nightmare.’
McConnell also ripped the legislative effort in an appearance on Fox News Wednesday. ‘It is an atrocity, every Republican opposes it, and we’re going to do everything we can to defeat it,’ he said.
The House has already passed its election reform effort – which touches on a range of issues, including registration rules and the length of early voting, while outlawing some state practices and changing the composition of the Federal Election Commission.
Schumer has made the Senate version a priority – and it is already being watched as a measure that could provoke a bitter fight over the Senate filibuster – which some Democrats and activists want to nuke in order to force President Joe Biden’s agenda through the chamber.
At the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki, when asked about the effort, said there were changes being made to the House version that the White House ‘fully expected.’
‘We remain very closely engaged,’ she said.