Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shredded a House Democratic anti-corruption proposal on Wednesday over a provision that would make going to the polls a national holiday.
The bill unveiled by Democrats this month is a chief priority of their new majority, and looks to make sweeping changes toward reducing the role of money in politics, ethics reform and expanding voting rights.
But the Kentucky Republican, who has supported the free flow of money in political campaigns, has made it clear it will go nowhere fast in the Republican-controlled Senate.
McConnell used his floor speech to further ridicule the Democratic measure as a “power grab” specifically for wanting to make Election Day a federal day off.
“Just what America needs, another paid holiday and a bunch of government workers being paid to go out and work for, I assume … our colleagues on the other side, on their campaigns,” he said.
Read this: Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul spend their PAC money very differently
The signature legislation introduced by House Democrats would encourage private employers to also make Election Day a holiday. It would also require poll workers to provide a week’s notice if poll sites are changed, and make colleges and universities voter registration agencies, in addition to local departments of motor vehicles.
McConnell, however, cast the legislation as one that puts taxpayers on the hook by creating generous benefits for federal bureaucrats and government employees. He said it would create new government subsidies both for political campaign donors and for the campaigns themselves.
“Their bill would make Election Day a new paid holiday for government workers and create an additional, brand-new paid leave benefit of up to six days for any federal bureaucrat who decides they’d like to hang out at the polls during any election,” McConnell said.
Other highlights of the bill include:
- Support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United case, which prohibits caps on campaign expenditures by for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations.
- Requiring the president and vice president to disclose 10 years of his or her tax returns. Candidates for president and vice president must do the same.
- Stopping members of Congress from using taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment or discrimination cases.
- Passing the DISCLOSE Act, pushed by Rep. David Cicilline and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, both Democrats from Rhode Island. This would require super PACs and “dark money” political organizations to make their donors public.
- Ending partisan gerrymandering in federal elections and prohibiting voter roll purging.
- Beefing up elections security, including requiring the director of national intelligence to do regular checks on foreign threats.
Matt Bevin: Kentucky schools closing for wind chill is a sign we’re ‘soft’
House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., has long been an advocate of campaign finance reform. He introduced a separate measure amending the Constitution to overturn the Citizens United decision.
The congressman’s office pointed to the recent midterm election, in which more than $5 billion was spent, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. It said that total is a conservative estimate because it does not include political spending that goes unreported because of disclosure loopholes.
“With so much special interest money flowing through our political system, the American people are correct to wonder whether their elected officials are working for them or doing the bidding of the Wall Street banks, drug companies, or other deep-pocketed special interest groups funding their campaigns,” Yarmuth said in a statement.
Reporter Phillip M. Bailey can be reached at 502-582-4475 or email@example.com.