Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a stern warning to corporate America as the fallout from Georgia's new voting law continues, a sign of a possible rift between the GOP and corporations.
"My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics," McConnell said at a news conference in his home state of Kentucky Monday. "Don't pick sides in these big fights."
"Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order," the Republican leader continued, warning companies there could be risk if they wade into other political issues, such as climate change or gun violence.
"It’s jaw-dropping to see powerful American institutions not just permit themselves to be bullied, but join in the bullying themselves," McConnell said, adding: "I found it completely discouraging to find a bunch of corporate CEOs getting in the middle of politics."
Last week, Major League Baseball announced that they are moving the All-Star Game and the MLB Draft out of Atlanta in the aftermath of Georgia enacting a new law critics say disproportionately affects voters of color. Georgia-based companies Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola also issued stinging rebukes of the measure.
In response, prominent Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, called for the boycott of the league, as well as Coca-Cola, Delta, and other companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, UPS, and Merck.
The new law shortens the time frame between primary and general elections, which also narrows the options for early voting. Yet the new law also expands early voting on Saturdays.
Republicans had initially proposed to limit weekend voting, a time when many Black churches conduct “souls to the polls” efforts. But Republicans reversed themselves, and the measure now requires two Saturdays of early voting, in addition to options for counties to open voting on Sundays.
The law also makes it a misdemeanor to hand out food, drink or other benefits to voters waiting in long lines at polling stations. Biden criticized that move, but advocates say it is meant to discourage outside groups from influencing voters.
“This is Jim Crow on steroids what they're doing in Georgia and 40 other states,” Biden told ESPN in an interview last week. “Imagine passing the law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote. Can't do that? Come on! Or you're going to close a polling place at 5:00 when working people just get off. This is all about keeping working folks and ordinary folks that I grew up with from being able to vote.”
McConnell took umbrage with Biden's comments, saying it's a "big lie" that the bill is racist: "It’s simply not true."
“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 statement earlier Monday. “Nobody really thinks this current dispute comes anywhere near the horrific racist brutality of segregation.”
On a separate token, McConnell reiterated his call for Republican men to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after a recent study suggested that Republican men are skeptical of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
"I saw on some program last week that Republican men, curiously enough, might be reluctant to take the vaccine," McConnell said. "I'm a Republican man, and I want to say to everyone: we need to take this vaccine."
The Kentucky Republican made similar comments last week, saying that "there is no good argument not to get the vaccination. I would encourage all men regardless of party affiliation to get the vaccination."
McConnell received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Dec. 2020 by Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress' Attending Physician, as part of continuity-of-government protocols.
"If we're going all really be back to normal by this summer, we still have a way to go here in Kentucky and all across America to get those shots in arms over the next few months," he added.
When asked if he still had confidence in Dr. Anthony Fauci, McConnell offered his support for the nation's top infectious disease expert.
"I think he's the principal person we've relied on the last couple of years. That's become somewhat controversial, I gather," McConnell said, adding: "We have to take advice from somebody and for myself, looking at his history and background, he's the most reliable witness I've seen."
The Minority Leader also said that he "can't imagine" that Biden's proposed infrastructure package is "going to be very appealing to many Republicans."
"Infrastructure, however, is appealing, and if we can figure a way to do a paid for, arguably more modest approach, I'd be open to it," he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.