Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is accusing Democrats of trying to “exploit” the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In a statement on Thursday morning, McConnell said, “January 6th, 2021 was a dark day for Congress and our country. The United States Capitol, the seat of the first branch of our federal government, was stormed by criminals who brutalized police officers and used force to try to stop Congress from doing its job.”
“This disgraceful scene was antithetical to the rule of law. One year later, I am as grateful as ever for the brave men and women of the U.S. Capitol Police who served our institution bravely that day and every day since. I continue to support justice for those who broke the law,” he continued.
However, he said, “It has been stunning to see some Washington Democrats try to exploit this anniversary to advance partisan policy goals that long predated this event. It is especially jaw-dropping to hear some Senate Democrats invoke the mob’s attempt to disrupt our country’s norms, rules, and institutions as a justification to discard our norms, rules, and institutions themselves.”
“A year ago today, the Senate did not bend or break. We stuck together, stood strong, gaveled back in, and did our job. Senators should not be trying to exploit this anniversary to damage the Senate in a different way from within,” McConnell added.
McConnell’s statement did not mention former President Donald Trump, whose supporters stormed the Capitol seeking to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris delivered remarks commemorating the riot on Thursday morning. And lawmakers were scheduled to deliver remarks reflecting on the events of that day, followed up by a prayer vigil in the evening.
McConnell’s statement appeared to allude to a “Dear Colleague” letter from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in which he said Democrats would try to change the filibuster rules if Senate Republicans blocked voting rights legislation.
In his letter, Schumer appeared to connect Jan. 6 riot to what he called “voter suppression laws” passed by Republican-controlled legislatures.
“We must ask ourselves: if the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the State level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?” he asked.
Finally, “The fight for the ballot is as old as the Republic. Over the coming weeks, the Senate will once again consider how to perfect this union and confront the historic challenges facing our democracy.”
“We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair election,” he added.
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