Mitch McConnell has been been branded a hypocrite for posting a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr while leading Republican efforts to obstruct new voting-rights legislation.
Mr McConnell was among several Republicans who took to social media to praise the late civil rights icon as the country marked Martin Luther King Day.
“Nearly 60 years since the March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message echoes as powerfully as it did that day,” the Senate minority leader wrote on social media.
“His legacy inspires us to celebrate and keep building upon the remarkable progress our great nation has made toward becoming a more perfect union.”
Dr King’s eldest son Martin Luther King III, who is leading a protest march in Washington on Monday, said he would “not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father’s dream”.
He earlier criticised elected officials from both parties for tweeting about his father “while standing in the way of voting rights”, and called on filibuster reform to allow new voting laws to be passed.
Attempts to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act which would restore protections against voter discrimination have stalled in the Senate, where Republicans such as Ted Cruz have vowed to block its passage.
Twitter users said Dr King would be “rolling over in his grave” at Mr McConnell’s “hypocrisy”.
“Read the room. It was guys like you he was protesting against,” one person wrote.
Another said: “Keep MLK’s name out of your mouth since you and your party have done more to obstruct his dream from coming to pass than any other source.”
“You’ve spent your entire life undoing his work,” another person wrote.
Several states have introduced “waves of voting restrictions” that target communities of colour since the 2020 presidential elections, according to The Brennan Center for Justice.
This came after the Supreme Court “gutted” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in 2013 by ending federal oversight of elections in states with a history of discriminatory practises.
President Joe Biden last week said he was in favour of reforming the filibuster so that voting legislation could pass without a super majority of 60 votes in the Senate.
However, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have rejected any attempts to change the filibuster.