Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ripped into President Biden’s Georgia speech on the Democratic push for voting rights legislation, calling it “profoundly unpresidential.”
In a scathing address on the Senate floor, the Kentucky Republican accused Biden of calling millions of Americans “domestic enemies” while comparing “a bipartisan majority of senators to literal traitors.”
“How profoundly, profoundly unpresidential,” McConnell said. “Look, I’ve known, liked, and personally respected Joe Biden for many years. I did not recognize the man at that podium yesterday.”
McConnell said Biden’s speech was a “rant,” “incoherent,” “incorrect,” “beneath his office” and “unbecoming of a President of the United States.” He pointed to Biden’s inaugural address last January in which the newly sworn in president said “every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.”
“That was just 12 months ago. But yesterday, he poured a giant can of gasoline on the fire,” the senator said, later adding that Biden said “anyone who opposes smashing the Senate and letting Democrats rewrite election law is a domestic ‘enemy’ and a traitor like Jefferson Davis.”
During Biden’s speech he likened supporters of the voting rights bill to civil rights icons and foes to segregationists and Confederate leader Davis.
“At consequential moments in history, they present a choice,” said Biden in his speech. “Do you want to be the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”
“The sitting president of the United States compared American states to totalitarian states. He said our country will be an autocracy if he does not get his way, if he does not get his way. So the world saw our Commander in Chief propagandize against his own country, his own country in a way that would have made Pravda blush,” McConnell continued, referring to the old Soviet Union propaganda newspaper.
McConnell repeatedly called Biden’s Tuesday speech a “rant,” adding that it was “designed to pull our country apart,” and “undermines our democracy.”
He cited that while the president blasted Georgia’s strict voting laws, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urged residents not to leave their homes without a photo id and vaccine card.
He also highlighted that the Peach State has more early days of voting than New York and Delaware – both Democrat-run states. Georgia starts early voting on the fourth Monday before the election or run-off, while New York and Delaware only allow for 10 days of early voting – additionally, Delaware’s early voting was not in effect until this year.
“The story is that democracy is on death’s door. But he spent nine months chasing a reckless taxing and spending spree before addressing it. It must not be that much of an emergency,” McConnell said, referring to the $2 trillion Build Back Better spending legislation stuck in the Senate.
As Senate Democrats look to push forward two major voting rights bills, Democratic leadership has floated eliminating the filibuster to do so – something Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have spoken out against in the past.
On Tuesday, Biden endorsed getting rid of the congressional procedure, claiming “the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills, debate them, vote, let the majority prevail.”
“And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this,” Biden continued.
McConnell slammed these remarks, calling the president’s address an “advertisement” for the filibuster.
“You could not invent a better advertisement for the legislative filibuster than what we’re just seeing, a president abandoning rational persuasion for pure, pure demagoguery,” the Republican said.
“A president shouting that 52 senators and millions of Americans are racist unless he gets whatever he wants is proving exactly why the framers built the Senate to check his power,” he added.
“This whole display is the best possible argument for preserving, preserving the Senate rules that extend deliberation, force bipartisan compromise, and let cooler heads prevail,” McConnell continued, adding that it is a “perfect case study” of why then-Sen. Biden was right about the filibuster while President Biden is wrong.
In 2005, then-senator Biden was very vocal in his support of the filibuster, calling attempts to eliminate it “an example of the arrogance of power.” Biden has repeatedly spoken in support, or voted in favor of the filibuster several times since then, only changing his tune at the end of 2021.