Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Minority, speaks during a hearing before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee at the Russell Senate Office Building on March 24, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
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Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have argued during a Senate committee hearing on electoral reform bill that Democrats claim will boost voting rights.
Democrats argue that the For the People Act, also known as S.1, would tackle voter suppression by, among other things, facilitating registration and voting, preventing gerrymandering, improving the cybersecurity of elections, and improving funding for reform campaigns.
The caucus sees the legislation as a way to combat a wave of Republican-backed voter restrictions proposed in state legislatures across the country.
“I want to ask my Republican colleagues why are you so afraid of democracy?” Asked Schumer. “Instead of trying to win the voters over what you lost in the last election, why are you trying to keep them from voting?”
“Shame, shame, shame,” said Schumer.
McConnell replied, “Talk about shame. If anyone here is ashamed, the FEC will turn into a partisan attorney. The majority controlled by the presidential party to harass and intimidate the other side – you should be ashamed of. “
The legislation would reform the federal election commission so that five of the current six commissioners “to break the deadlock”. according to a democratic description of the legislation. No more than two members may belong to the same party. The commission is currently split between three Republicans, two Democrats and an independent commission.
The minority leader said S.1 would create an “implementation nightmare” for election administrators and officials, a sentiment that was emphasized by the Republicans who opposed the law.
“This is nowhere near ready for prime time,” said McConnell. “It’s an invitation to total chaos”
Republican Senator Roy Blunt called the bill a “federal takeover” of the electoral process.
The bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate that would require at least 10 Republican votes to defeat a filibuster and move to a final vote when passed.
The House passed its For the People Act, H.R.1, on March 3, with all but one Democrat voting in favor and all Republicans voting against the legislation.
Schumer previously said “everything is on the table” for Senate Democrats to pass the laws as the caucus considers reforming the filibuster.
The debate over electoral integrity came to a head when conspiracy theories of widespread electoral fraud led violent pro-Trump rioters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6 to dismiss the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The deadly uprising came after Republican leaders, including former President Donald Trump, continued to spread claims that mail-in and early voting resulted in widespread electoral fraud, although there was no evidence of such fraud.