Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in a video posted to her Instagram account took credit for blocking a GOP effort to pass a bill to supplement the protections for Supreme Court (SCOTUS) justices and their families.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) asked on the House floor for unanimous consent to take the bill from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) desk, but the measure was blocked, so members could not vote on the legislation.
The move came a day after an armed man, Nicholas John Roske, allegedly attempted to murder Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh.
Now, Ocasio-Cortez has publicly revealed that she blocked McCarthy’s unanimous consent request, saying that it was to force a roll call vote after most Republicans voted against Democrats’ partisan gun control bills.
Ocasio-Cortez explained in a video posted to her Instagram Story on June 9.
Ocasio-Cortez noted that it was a “fly-out day”—the term used to describe members leaving DC to return to their districts—and that, as is common on these days, leaders on both parties hoped to use lawmakers’ anxiousness to get home “to force unpopular things to happen” through unanimous consent.
“I wake up [on June 9] and start to hear murmurs that there’s going to be an attempt to pass the Supreme Court supplemental protection bill the day after gun safety legislation for schools and kids and people gets stalled,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“Oh, so we can pass protections for us and here easily, but we can’t pass protections for everyday people?” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I think not. So, I’m gonna need a roll call vote on that.”
“Not only are you gonna try to pass it, they’re trying to pass it by unanimous consent, so it can slip on by with no one’s name put on it,” she continued. “That’s not what unanimous consent is for. Unanimous consent is not to pass things quickly to hide and prevent a politically difficult moment.
“If we’re gonna do it, let’s do it. Put our name on it. Vamos. Put it on the floor.”
Justices “are protected” and work is being done on proposed alterations to the legislation, Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference a short time after the bill was blocked, explaining why the bill wasn’t allowed to pass in its current form.
Attorney General Merrick Garland in May ordered around-the-clock protection at the homes of all nine Supreme Court justices, and several U.S. deputy Marshals spotted Rosko when he was dropped off by a taxi outside Kavanaugh’s home, according to court documents.
The Senate-passed bill would increase security for justices and their family members, but some Democrats want to expand the protection to staffers such as clerks.
“We’re working together on a bill which the Senate can approve of,” Pelosi said.
After a reporter brought up the attempt on Kavanaugh’s life, Pelosi added: “He’s protected. The justices are protected. It’s not about the justices, it’s about the staff and the rest. I don’t know what you’re talking about because evidently, you haven’t seen what the language is—there will be a bill, but nobody is in danger.”
She said a vote on the legislation is expected next week.
In the Senate, the bill passed uncontested, and members of both parties pushed for quick passage of the bill before the weekend.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) urged the House to move quickly during a panel hearing around the same time Pelosi explained her objection.
If House leaders want to expand the bill, “for goodness sakes, do it,” Durbin said. “Do it on a timely basis. Let’s get into conversation to get this passed once and for all. We need to do this.”
“The House has delayed action. I hope they’ll act soon,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the panel, said, before urging the Department of Justice to reconsider its decision not to charge protesters with violating a law that forbids gathering outside the homes of judges with the intent of influencing their votes.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said he spoke with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-N.Y.) late Wednesday and earlier Thursday, and believes the House could approve the bill soon.
Amending the legislation to include Supreme Court staffers is “perfectly reasonable” but “at the end of the day, what matters is that we act to protect our judiciary,” Coons said. “It’s my hope that if something comes back here from the House, that we’ll take it up and pass it quickly.”
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.