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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed during a hearing Wednesday that Democrats' signature voting rights bill, the "For the People Act," is unnecessary because "states are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever."

Reality check: Republican lawmakers across the country are trying to pass measures to make it more difficult to vote by limiting mail-in ballots, implementing new voter ID requirements and slashing registration options.

  • "There are at least 165 proposals under consideration in 33 states so far this year to restrict future voting access," Axios' Russell Contreras and Stef Kight wrote in February.
  • In South Carolina, a proposal would require signature matching for absentee ballots. A New Hampshire proposal would allow anyone to observe polls "without obstruction." A Texas plan would require that the Department of Public Safety verify voters' citizenship.
  • "Some of these voter suppression laws in Georgia and other Republican states smack of Jim Crow rearing its ugly head once again," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claimed ahead of McConnell's comments.

The big picture: McConnell and Schumer both made rare appearances at a hearing of the Senate Rules Committee, which is examining the Democratic proposal to expand voter registration (e.g., automatic and same-day registration) and voting access (e.g., vote by mail and early voting).

  • The For the People Act would require states to establish independent redistricting commissions to carry out congressional redistricting to eliminate partisan gerrymandering.
  • It would also expand the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals, require additional campaign finance disclosures, force presidential and vice presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns, reform the Federal Election Commission, and more.

Between the lines: Protection of voting rights is one of the key issues that Democrats have said warrants getting rid of the 60-vote filibuster if Republicans insist on blocking the legislation.

What he's saying: "States are not engaged in trying to suppress voters whatsoever," McConnell said.

  • "This is clearly an effort by one party to rewrite the rules of our political system. But even more immediately, it would create an implementation nightmare ... that would drown state and local officials who run elections.
  • "This proposal needs all the scrutiny it can get and I'm glad we're all here to give it that scrutiny," McConnell added.

Go deeper

Updated 24 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

Police: Officer who shot Daunte Wright accidentally pulled gun instead of taser

The officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, outside Minneapolis Sunday appeared to have inadvertently pulled out her gun instead of a taser, police said.

Driving the news: "This appears to me, from what I viewed in the officer's reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright," Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon told reporters Monday.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to hold strategic Iran talks on Tuesday

Jake Sullivan. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty

Top national security officials from the U.S. and Israel will convene virtually on Tuesday for a second round of strategic talks on Iran, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The talks come two days after an explosion at an Iranian nuclear facility that experts consider a likely act of Israeli sabotage, and one day before the U.S. resumes indirect nuclear talks in Vienna over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal — a prospect that has raised anxiety levels in Jerusalem.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: The warning signs of a longer pandemic — CDC director: Answer to Michigan COVID-19 surge is "to close things down."
  2. Vaccines: Former FDA chief offers reality check on vaccine passports.
  3. Economy: Jobs growth could be curbed by demands for higher wages.
  4. World: Facebook to push notifications about vaccine eligibility to 20 countries outside of the U.S. — Brits flock to pubs for first time in months as U.K. lockdown eases.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.