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Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) accompany other freshmen House Democrats into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) office. (Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

'Where's Mitch?': Ocasio-Cortez and Fellow Democrats Search High and Low to Demand McConnell Hold Vote to End Shutdown

The House Democrats called on the Senate Majority Leader to "end this manufactured crisis and allow our devoted federal workers to get back to work for the American people"

Jake Johnson

With the economic pain and dire safety risks caused by the record-long government shutdown becoming clearer by the day, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and a group of her fellow freshman House Democrats marched to the Senate building on Wednesday to hand-deliver a letter demanding that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately hold a vote to reopen the government.

After searching for and failing to find McConnell in the Republican cloakroom, his office, or on the Senate floor, the Democrats left copies of their letter on McConnell's desk and in his personal office.

"He seems to be running away from us," Ocasio-Cortez said of the Senate Majority Leader.

"Where's Mitch is my question," the New York Democrat added as she joined her colleagues outside of McConnell's office.

In their letter, the freshman Democrats noted that Congress "has the power to end this shutdown now."

"In December, the Senate unanimously passed legislation that would have kept the government open," the Democrats note. "In January, the House then passed those same bipartisan bills and sent them to the Senate. If the Senate were to pass these bills, we would be able to re-open the government and then proceed to a debate about immigration reform and border security."

But because President Donald Trump has vowed to reject any funding agreement that doesn't include $5 billion for his border wall, McConnell has persistently refused to hold a vote to end the shutdown—even as he continues to pursue other legislative priorities, like punishing boycotts of Israel.

Accusing Trump of holding "public servants hostage," the freshman Democrats demanded that McConnell "allow the Congress to work its will and allow a vote on this bipartisan legislation to end the shutdown so that we can end this manufactured crisis and allow our devoted federal workers to get back to work for the American people."

Read the full letter, which is signed by over 30 House Democrats:

Dear Senator Mitch McConnell:

We write as members of the Freshman Class of the 116th Congress, an historic group that has the distinction of being the first Congress to be seated in the midst of a partial government shutdown.

We as the legislative branch have the power to end this shutdown now. In December, the Senate unanimously passed legislation that would have kept the government open. In January, the House then passed those same bipartisan bills and sent them to the Senate. If the Senate were to pass these bills, we would be able to re-open the government and then proceed to a debate about immigration reform and border security.

However, it is impossible to have a meaningful policy discussion while the executive holds public servants hostage. We respectfully request that you allow the Congress to work its will and allow a vote on this bipartisan legislation to end the shutdown so that we can end this manufactured crisis and allow our devoted federal workers to get back to work for the American people.


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