Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered fiery criticism of Republicans on Tuesday for efforts around the country to tighten voter laws amid unproven claims made by former President Trump that the 2020 election was stolen.
Schumer, speaking at a Senate Rules Committee meeting on a sweeping elections overhaul bill, accused Republicans of trying to act upon the “big lie that the election was stolen” to “placate” and “please” Trump.
“Unfortunately, the big lie is spreading like a cancer among Republicans. It’s enveloping and consuming the Republican Party, in both houses of Congress,” Schumer said.
Schumer pointed to the likely ousting of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House Republican Conference chair. Frustration with Cheney has boiled over among House Republicans after she’s pushed back against Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen.
“Liz Cheney spoke truth to power, and for that, she’s being fired,” Schumer said.
Schumer also criticized Republicans for not pushing back against state laws that add restrictions on the ability to vote.
“Every Republican in this room knows Joe Biden won the election fair and square. Every Republican knows that Donald Trump perpetrated the big lie. But the price of admission in today’s Republican Party is silence in the face of provable lies,” Schumer said.
The Senate Rules Committee is set to vote on a sweeping bill to overhaul elections that has divided Congress along party lines.
The Senate standoff comes as numerous state legislatures across the country have introduced legislation to place restrictions on voting in the wake of the 2020 election, which Trump and his allies have falsely claimed was stolen. Dozens of challenges from Trump’s legal team were dismissed by the courts, however, and election experts have said there is no evidence of widespread fraud.
The Brennan Center for Justice found that as of March 24, legislatures have introduced 361 bills with “restrictive provisions” in 47 states.
“In democracy, when you lose an election, you try to persuade more voters to vote for you. You don’t try to ban the other side from voting. That’s what [Viktor] Orban does, that’s what [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan does, that’s what dictators do,” Schumer said on Tuesday, referring to the leaders of Hungary and Turkey.
He added that the state laws “carry the stench of impression, the smell of bigotry.”
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaking at the Rules Committee hearing, argued that the Democratic bill was “cooked up” after the 2016 election, when Trump defeated then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“The truth is quite simple: Our Democracy is not in crisis and we aren’t going to let one party take over our democracy under the false pretense of saving it,” McConnell said.
“None of the shifting made up rationales for this sweeping set of changes hold any water at all,” McConnell added.