Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday railed against a proposal that would make Election Day a holiday for federal workers, arguing that doing so would help Democrats.
“This is the Democrat plan to restore democracy? A brand-new week of paid vacation for every federal employee who would like to hover around while you cast your ballot?” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
The bill would make “the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in 2020″ a day off for federal workers and encourages private employers to give their workers the day off as well. It’s part of a suite of legislation, known as H.R. 1, that House Democrats have prioritized since taking back the chamber. But McConnell implied Wednesday that the proposal, long a pet issue for advocates working to increase voter turnout, would just be a giveaway to Democrats.
“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,” the majority leader said.
He did not provide proof to back up his claim that federal workers were spending their paid vacation days to work on Democratic campaigns.
McConnell’s comments notably come days after the end of a nearly 36-day-long government shutdown, the longest in history, which impacted nearly 800,000 federal workers, some of whom were forced to turn to food banks, sell their items, or take out emergency loans to make ends meet.
In addition to making Election Day a holiday, H.R. 1 would also create a national voter registration system and expand access to early online voter registration. It would create new disclosure requirements to political organizations and provisions for public financing for elections, including a system to multiply small dollar campaign donations.
H.R. 1, if signed into law, would also end most first-class travel for federal officials and require presidents to release their tax returns, something President Donald Trump has refused to do.
In addition to his comments Wednesday about the Election Day holiday proposal, McConnell shared a video one day earlier with similar remarks about H.R. 1 more broadly, deriding the fact that the bill is more than 500 pages long and wide-reaching in its reform efforts.
H.R. 1 is the far left’s sprawling effort to seize more control of the political process. It’s an attempt to rewrite the rules of American politics to benefit the Democrats and their friends. pic.twitter.com/tztygT3YPS
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) January 29, 2019
“I want to assure the American people right from the outset, [H.R. 1] may pass the House, but not the Senate,” McConnell said.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) expressed similar fury at the proposal in the House Wednesday, saying on the House floor, “There is one more thing the Democrats want to do. They want to make election day a holiday. A paid holiday. For federal employees. This is not where we need to be. This is not respect taxpayers deserve.”
As The Washington Post reported in 2014, many people still face major structural issues that keep them from being able to vote, including being unable to get enough time off work or having home or schooling obligations that prevent them from going to the polls.