When Democrats unveiled their first major legislative initiative after retaking control of the House in November, they made clear that front and center in their efforts would be a significant push to expand voting rights, and access. The GOP, whose congressional power has in no small part been consolidated by repeated—and frequently unconstitutional—efforts to limit or manipulate voting, balked, reasoning that more votes would would likely mean fewer Republicans in office.
Which brings us to today, where not one but two GOP heavies took to the floor of their respective chambers of Congress to whine about a very specific and relatively small portion of the Democrats’ proposal: a measure to make election day a paid holiday for government employees (and recommending private employers treat is as one as well). It’s the sort of no-brainer idea that would both elevate what elections mean in the U.S. and lower the barrier to participation for those voters who might otherwise stay home—or, more accurately, stay at work—rather than go to the polls.
First there was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who denounced the effort as “a power grab that’s smelling more and more like exactly what it is.”
“Their bill would make election day a new paid holiday for government workers, and create an additional brand new paid leave benefit for up to six days for any federal bureaucrat who decides they’d like to hang out at the polls during an election,” McConnell whined. “Just what America needs—another paid holiday and a bunch of government workers being paid to go out and work.”
As a reminder, sitting Republican Sens. Richard Shelby and Chuck Grassley both voted against making Martin Luther King Jr. day a federal holiday, too.
McConnell’s kvetch-sesh echoed that of his House colleague Rep. Jim Jordan, who also used today to bemoan the absolutely unconscionable idea of making voting easier for most people.
“There is one more thing the Democrats want to do,” Jordan bloviated on the House floor. “They want to make election day a holiday. A paid holiday. For federal employees.
“This is not where we need to be,” He exclaimed. “This is not respect taxpayers deserve.”
Which isn’t to say this is new, exactly. Republicans haven’t exactly been secretive about their opposition to making it easier for more people to exercise their right to vote. But twice in one day? On the floors of Congress? Jeez guys, way to give away the game.