Harry Reid blasts Mitch McConnell on gender equity
By: Burgess Everett
July 15, 2014 11:20 AM EDT
Harry Reid on Tuesday called Mitch McConnell’s views on gender equity “shocking” and “troubling,” claiming less than four months before the election that the “war regarding women is not over.”
Last week, McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, said he believed women have come a “long way” on pay equity, citing the rise of female executives, according to The Oldham Era, a community newspaper in Oldham County, Kentucky. Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate majority leader, said those remarks were reminiscent of George W. Bush’s infamous “mission accomplished” moment regarding Iraq in 2003.
Reid, citing Senate Republicans’ blockade of a bill aimed at narrowing pay disparities, said McConnell was declaring victory prematurely.
“The only thing missing from the Republican leader’s declaration would be an aircraft carrier and a large ‘mission accomplished’ sign hanging in the background,” Reid said. “The Republican leader suggested the notion of ensuring the rights for American women is tantamount to preferential treatment. That was his opinion. That’s as shocking as it is troubling.”
McConnell said last week he was “skeptical” of arguments that the GOP is hostile to women and efforts by his Democratic opponent to draw female voters, arguing against “the assumption that we need to sort of give preferential treatment to the majority of our population.”
Reid’s rhetoric sets up a long-shot Democratic messaging vote on Wednesday that would override the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision to allow employers to skirt providing some forms of contraception to employees if they violate the employer’s religious beliefs.
Though he made no direct reference to Reid’s attack, McConnell responded by dinging Obamacare’s effects on middle-class women, arguing the law reduces doctor and hospital choice for women. He also said Republicans would offer a legislative response on women’s health care themselves “that says no employer can block any employee from legal access to her FDA-approved contraceptives.”
“There’s no disagreement on that fundamental point. The American people know that. They know Democrats are just attempting to offer another false choice here,” McConnell said. “Of course you can support both religious freedom and access to contraception.”
Reid’s attack on the Republican leader represents just part of a comprehensive Democratic strategy to mobilize women against McConnell, who is facing a closely watched challenge from Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes — a Reid ally. Grimes’ campaign has been hammering McConnell for his “out-of-touch” remarks on gender equity and just minutes after Reid’s speech, NARAL Pro-Choice America blasted out an ad that claims McConnell “never” does the right thing for women in Kentucky.