After hours of debate, Senate Republicans once again exploited the filibuster to block landmark voting rights legislation proposed by Senate Democrats and approved by the House. A measure to bypass the filibuster and pass the legislation with a simple majority also failed after conservative Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona refused to support any measure of filibuster reform.
Democrats have tried in vain multiple times to pass voting rights bills last year, hoping to offset the dozens of voter suppression bills passed into law by Republican state legislators under the guise of election security in 2021. Senators on the left have repeatedly noted that these bills disproportionately affect majority-Black communities, hindering their access to the ballot box. This has sparked comparisons to the historical disenfranchisement of Black voters, especially in the American South.
After the latest attempt to pass the legislation failed, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky held a press conference where he attempted to deny voter suppression measures were racist.
When asked what his message to voters of color concerned about equal access to the ballot box would be, McConnell responded:
"Well, the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting at just as high a percentage as Americans."
The slip suggested that McConnell believes Black Americans aren't really Americans.
Social media users called him out.
Some saw the comments as a rare moment of gruesome honesty from congressional Republicans' top spokesman.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has vowed to continue the pursuit of voting rights legislation in the Senate, but with the filibuster essentially endowing McConnell with veto powers, that legislation faces an uphill battle.