Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday rebuked President Biden for abandoning “rational persuasion for pure demagoguery” in his quest to blow up the chamber’s filibuster rule and pass new partisan election laws.
He said Mr. Biden in a speech a day earlier in Georgia had denigrated the U.S., which Mr. McConnell said was conduct unbecoming of the country’s chief executive.
“With the world’s largest megaphone, he invoked the literal Civil War and said we are on the doorstep of autocracy,” said Mr. McConnell. “The world saw our sitting commander-in-chief propagandize against his own country to a degree that would have made Pravda blush.”
The GOP leader added the remarks were far from the conciliatory rhetoric Mr. Biden campaigned on during the 2020 White House race.
“In less than a year, ‘restoring the soul of America’ has become: agree with me, or you’re a bigot,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican.
“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,” said Mr. McConnell. “This whole display is the best possible argument for preserving the Senate rules that extend deliberation, force bipartisan compromise, and let cooler heads prevail. Nothing proves it better than this episode.”
GOP lawmakers are not the only ones to say that Mr. Biden’s speech was over the top.
“Perhaps the President went a little too far in his rhetoric,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat. “But the fundamental principles and values at stake are very, very similar.”
In a speech Tuesday in Atlanta, Mr. Biden attacked the Senate as a relic relying on antiquated rules and traditions that were stymying progress. The crux of Mr. Biden’s remarks centered on calls to jettison the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass partisan voting measures along party lines.
“I believe that 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,” said Mr. Biden. “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.”
In making his argument, the president made a full-throated indictment of Republicans, accusing them of perverting election laws in GOP-run states to make it harder for Black people and other minorities to vote.
Mr. Biden also linked Democrats’ voting agenda to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 election. Mr. Biden said democracy itself is under siege and needs to be protected.
“That’s why we are here today to stand against the forces of America that value power over principle, forces an attempted coup, a coup against the legally expressed view of the American people by sowing doubt,” he said.