“Where’s Mitch?” asked Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a video posted to her Twitter account on Wednesday. In the clip, she and other freshman Democrats are in a golf cart in search of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As The Hill reports, Ocasio-Cortez and her colleagues wanted to meet McConnell to deliver a letter requesting that he call a vote in the Senate to reopen the government.
The United States government has been in a partial shutdown since late December after Congress failed to pass a spending bill that would designate appropriations to nine government agencies. This means that workers and contractors linked to these agencies have not been paid. The main point of contention has been a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border which was one of President Donald Trump’s main campaign promises.
While reports on negotiations about reopening government have centered around the president meeting with Democratic leaders, the new cohort of Democratic congresspeople is zeroing in on McConnell.
As The Week Magazine reports, the House of Representatives has passed two spending bills, but McConnell has not called the Senate to vote on either of them. One of the bills allocates funds to the Department of Homeland Security until February 8 and does not include money for the border wall. The other bill funds the other closed agencies for the rest of the year.
In a tweet posted on January 16, representative Ocasio-Cortez wrote that there’s majority support for these bills in the Senate despite McConnell’s refusal to call the vote. She offered two reasons for his reluctance:
We have secured enough Republican votes in the Senate to reopen government.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 16, 2019
Our obstacle now is Mitch McConnell, who won’t call the vote for what seems like 2 reasons:
1. He won’t operate independently of Trump
2. He’s putting his own re-election ahead of 800,000 working people https://t.co/ARMePsObUw
President Trump has said he would veto any bill that did not include funding for the border wall, The Week notes. McConnell has also previously said that he will not have the Senate vote on any funding bill that the president will not sign. But two Republican senators, Susan Collins and Cory Gardner, have said that they believe the bills should be voted on.
“I’m not saying their whole plan is a valid plan, but I see no reason why the bills that are ready to go and on which we’ve achieved an agreement should be held hostage to this debate over border security,” Collins said as reported by The Associated Press.
Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow Democrats’ search for Senator McConnell was ultimately unsuccessful. They never found him. In a tweet, Representative Katie Hill of California says that they looked for him in the Senate Majority Room, in the Senate Cloak Room, on the Senate floor, and in his office but he was not in any of those places.
Where’s @senatemajldr? Not calling for a vote to reopen the government. He’s also not:— Rep. Katie Hill (@RepKatieHill) January 16, 2019
✅ In the Senate Majority Office
✅ In the Senate Cloak Room
✅ On the Senate Floor
✅ In his own office
Believe us, we checked.
So #WheresMitch? And why won’t he #EndTheShutdownNow? pic.twitter.com/kA0sIUEyDb
The Hill reports that while they were in his office, McConnell’s Deputy Chief Of Staff, Don Stewart, said that he would pass their letter on to the senator.
“I said I’m happy to give it to the leader, as I do with every single letter that comes into this office,” he said.
We at the House are doing *our* job passing bills reopen government, so why won’t @senatemajldr do his?— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) January 16, 2019
We left to drop off letters to:
- His Sen Majority Leader office
- The GOP cloak room
- The Senate floor
- His Senate office
And he’s nowhere to be found. #WheresMitch? pic.twitter.com/jZcWei6PM7