Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Accuses Companies of 'Bullying' Over Georgia Voting Law

GOP Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Monday that big businesses should "stay out of politics" following the news that major corporations, including Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola have distanced themselves from the state amid public pressure. Major League Baseball announced last week in response to the laws that it would relocate the 2021 All-Star Game, which was due to be held in Atlanta.

McConnell said it was a "big lie" to call the new voting law racist. "It's simply not true," McConnell said of President Biden's criticism that the new bill was a return to Jim Crow–era restrictions that limited ballot access for Black Americans.

The new laws intend to scale back early voting opportunities as well as other options which have become popular during the pandemic. McConnell's choice to involve himself in the debate lends strength to Republican effort to install stricter voting laws following the 2020 election.

Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky talks to reporters with Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, left, and Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 16. On April 5, McConnell warned corporations to stay out of politics following actions by Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, Major League Baseball and American Airlines. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Even more, McConnell's warning to big business not to get involved shows the scramble Republicans face as progressive groups are shining a spotlight on corporate America to live up to its brands and values as Congress takes on voting rights, gun violence and other issues.

The Republican leader has been among the most outspoken champions of the role of big money in elections, promoting the free-flow of undisclosed dollars to campaigns as a form of Constitution-protected free speech.

But companies temporarily halted giving to many Republicans after the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol siege, when the former president urged like supporters to fight for him and hundreds stormed the Capitol.

Speaking in Kentucky, McConnell said Monday it's simply "not accurate" to say the Georgia law is making it more difficult to vote.

McConnell also criticized Biden for criticizing the law, saying the president's claims had been fact-checked as false.

"The President has claimed repeatedly that state-level debates over voting procedures are worse than Jim Crow or 'Jim Crow on steroids.' Nobody actually believes this," McConnell said in a lengthy statement earlier Monday.

"Nobody really thinks this current dispute comes anywhere near the horrific racist brutality of segregation."

The new law shortens the time frame between primary and general elections, which also narrows the options for early voting. To counter the popular "souls to the polls" events at Black churches on Sundays, the law now requires two Saturdays for voting. It makes it a misdemeanor to hand out food, drink or other benefits to voters waiting in long lines at polling stations.

McConnell more pointedly warned the big business that have been responding to public pressure on their corporate actions not to give in to the advocacy campaigns.

"It's jaw-dropping to see powerful American institutions not just permit themselves to be bullied, but join in the bullying themselves," he said.

McConnell warned companies not to get involved in voting issues or other upcoming debates on environmental policy or gun violence heading to Congress.