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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is trending on Twitter after making a comment related to voting rights that his critics say implies African Americans are not Americans.
Before a vote to move the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to the Senate floor failed Wednesday, McConnell was asked by a reporter about concerns among voters of color.
"Well 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 responded.
A 19-second clip of the exchange was posted to Twitter late Wednesday and has been viewed nearly 1 million times.
"Being Black doesn’t make you less of an American, no matter what this craven man thinks," former Kentucky Rep. Charles Booker tweeted.
"In one quote, he summarized the entire GOP worldview. They think it’s a White nation and anyone who isn’t White isn’t a true American," tweeted another person.
I need you to understand that this is who Mitch McConnell is.
Being Black doesn’t make you less of an American, no matter what this craven man thinks.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) January 20, 2022
When asked to comment on the clip Thursday afternoon, McConnell said in a statement, "I have consistently pointed to the record-high turnout for all voters in the 2020 election, including African-Americans."
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named for the late Georgia Democratic representative and civil rights icon, would restore Justice Department review of changes in election laws in states with a history of discrimination.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan policy group affiliated with the New York University School of Law, in 2021 at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting.
Mitch McConnell: "African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as American voters."
Toni Morrison: "In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate."
— Mary L Trump (@MaryLTrump) January 20, 2022
In a statement shortly after the legislation failed to advance, President Joe Biden said: "I am profoundly disappointed that the United States Senate has failed to stand up for our democracy. I am disappointed — but I am not deterred.
"My administration will never stop fighting to ensure that the heart and soul of our democracy — the right to vote — is protected at all costs. We will continue to work with allies to advance necessary legislation to protect the right to vote. And to push for Senate procedural changes that will protect the fundamental right to vote."
In an opinion piece submitted to The Courier Journal, McConnell categorized the new legislation as a power grab by Democrats.
"Washington Democrats have desperately wanted to take over our elections for years, even though their justification seems to change every election cycle," he wrote. "After losing the White House in 2016, they said the takeover was necessary because our democracy was fundamentally broken.
"Now that they’ve won the White House, their story has flipped: Our democracy is in perfect shape, except when Republican-controlled states dare to pass mainstream voting laws."
In that piece, when differentiating between voters, McConnell wrote about Black and white voter turnout, not African American and American.
USA Today reporters Savannah Behrmann and Ledyard King contributed to this story. Contact reporter Krista Johnson at email@example.com.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated when McConnell made his comment. He was speaking prior to Wednesday night's action on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Mitch McConnell: African Americans vote as much as Americans