Black Lawmakers Fire Back at Mitch McConnell: 'We Are American'

Black lawmakers have hit back at Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Thursday, after the Senate minority leader made racially inflammatory comments when he appeared to refer to African Americans and Americans as two separate groups.

The Republican made the comments after GOP senators blocked Democrats' voting rights legislation on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

"The concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans," McConnell told reporters after the upper house rejected the change to the filibuster rule that could push through the voting rights bill.

The Democrats needed 50 votes to pass the rule change, but Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) joined all Republicans in opposing the measure.

Several studies contradict McConnell's claim—and show that laws in place to restrict voters, such as stringent voter ID laws—disproportionally impact people of color.

African American politicians responded to McConnell's comments on Twitter.

Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) tweeted a photo of himself and his wife Colette in front of the Stars and Stripes.

"We are American #mitchplease," his tweet read.

Charles Booker, who is running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, said: "I am no less American than Mitch McConnell."

"I need you to understand that this is who Mitch McConnell is," Booker added.

"Being Black doesn't make you less of an American, no matter what this craven man thinks."

Democratic Illinois congressman Bobby Rush tweeted: "African Americans ARE Americans. #MitchPlease"

Jaime Harrison, chair of the Democratic National Committee, tweeted: "Hey @LeaderMcConnell… for your information, I'm also an American!"

He then added "Changed my bio to help 'ol Mitch..." modifying his Twitter bio to read "American."

Pam Keith, a 2020 Democratic Congress candidate and executive director of voter rights organization Fight 4 Florida's Future, also posted a picture of herself, declaring that she is American.

Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, also a candidate for Senate, tweeted: "Mitch McConnell's comments suggesting African Americans aren't fully American wasn't a Freudian slip—it was a dog whistle. The same one he has blown for years."

Wednesday's defeat in the Senate is another blow for President Joe Biden, who is struggling to regain his popularity as leader as he is still dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, has not been able to pass the $1.5 trillion Build Back Better bill, and oversaw a tumultuous exit from Afghanistan.

Voting rights are top of the agenda for many Democrats, in light of former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and GOP-run states pushing through a string of bills restricting voting access.

A video resurfaced Wednesday showing Republicans praising Manchin and Sinema for their stance on the filibuster, after the failed effort to change the rules on Wednesday.

Rep. Donald McEachin
Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) speaks outside the U.S. Capitol during a rally to highlight the efforts of Congressional Democrats to legislate against climate change on October 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. McEachin was one of the Black lawmakers who hit back at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for making inflammatory comments about African Americans. Chip Somodevilla/Getty