Senate Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the rare Senate hearing held Monday by Democrats in Georgia as a “partisan circus” and a “silly stunt.”
Local elected officials and voters showed up at the hearing to condemn a new voting law they say is an attempt to make it harder for minorities to vote and strengthen Republicans’ hold on power.
Republican senators did not travel to Georgia to participate.
McConnell said, “The fake outrage from ‘Democrats’ may have driven jobs and opportunities out of the state of Georgia, but I’m sure Georgians will appreciate Democrats bringing their own partisan circus to the city instead.
“This silly stunt is based on the same lie as the fakery of all Democrats from Georgia to Texas to Washington DC and beyond — their attempts to pretend moderate, mainstream state voting laws with more generous early voting provisions than blue states like New York are a kind of malicious attack on our democracy.’
Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The fake outcry from Democrats may have driven jobs and opportunities out of the state of Georgia, but I’m sure Georgians will appreciate Democrats bringing their own partisan circus to town instead.”
Democratic Senate Rules Committee members traveled to Georgia for a rare “field hearing” at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to discuss the state’s new voting law
US Senator Jeff Merkley, (D-OR), speaks with Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) (L) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) as they argue their case on voting rights
Monday’s hearing comes as the issue of voting rights divides America in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s allegations of fraud in the 2020 election.
A large number of Republican-controlled states have taken steps to tighten identification requirements, reduce the use of mailed ballots and early voting hours.
The hearing took place in a conference room of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta.
“We’re here in Atlanta today to shine a spotlight on what has happened in Georgia and in states across the country to undermine voting freedom,” said Senate Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar.
Democrats are trying to draw attention to their own vote and election, the For the People Act, which is still blocked by the Republican opposition and Democratic division over whether or not to change Senate rules to get it passed.
The federal law would create minimum voting standards in the US, such as same-day and automatic voter registration, early voting and no-apology voting.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, left, D-Minn., swears to testify during a Senate Committee hearing on voting rights at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Monday, July 19, 2021
The bill would also amend several campaign finance and ethics laws.
Republicans, however, see it as a Democratic power grab and say the changes amount to a federal takeover of elections, which are administered in the US at the state and local levels.
No Republicans attended the hearing and they gave no witnesses.
“Congress needs to take action on voting rights, and we don’t have time to spare,” said US Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat from Georgia, in his testimony before the committee.
“We Americans live in a great house that democracy built, and right now that house is on fire.”
Much of Monday’s hearing focused on a GOP-backed electoral bill signed earlier this year by Georgia’s Republican government Brian Kemp.
The law adds a voter ID requirement for mailed ballots, shortens the time period for requesting a mailed ballot, and results in fewer ballot boxes available in metro Atlanta.
Several lawsuits have been filed over the law, including one by the United States Department of Justice.
Republicans condemned hearing in which they accused Democrats of launching a stunt to push through their political power grab
“We desperately need your help,” Senator Sally Harrell, a Democrat from metro Atlanta, told the senators during the hearing.
‘Where you live should not determine how difficult it is to vote and whether your vote counts. Now is the time to take action, to meet national voting standards, and I beg you to do so.”
But Georgian Republicans insist that many of the measures are already being applied elsewhere.
Kemp used the same line as McConnell on Monday, describing the hearing as a publicity stunt and saying the measures were “common sense.”
“Whether it’s the DOJ, the DNC, or the Senate Democrats, we’re not backing down,” he told reporters on a conference call.
“We will continue to fight for the truth and we will stand up for safe, accessible and fair elections.”
Other Republicans maintained a barrage of criticism.
Republican National Committee chairman Ronna McDaniel said Democrats would have been better off investigating New York’s chaotic mayoral election.
“Instead of holding a ‘field hearing’ in Georgia to unjustifiably attack common sense provisions in elections, Senate Democrats should go to the birthplace of their leader Chuck Schumer, New York City, who is completely incompetent.” is in holding elections,” she said.