Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Where's Mitch, That's My Question' As She Tries to Deliver Letter to Republican Senate Leader During Shutdown

On the 26th day of the longest government shutdown in history, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and several other freshman Democrats strolled into Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky) office with a letter urging the Senate Majority Leader to end the shutdown.

The letter — signed by over 30 House freshman — encourages McConnell to "reopen the government," suggesting he bring a House package to fund federal agencies "to a vote." But, when they got to the Senator's office, he was nowhere to be seen, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to say "where's Mitch is my question," according to Lexington Herald-Leader correspondent Lesley Clark.

"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," the letter read. "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."

It added: "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."

Arriving at the GOP leader's office, the freshman Democrats were intercepted in the reception area by the senator's deputy chief of staff, Don Stewart, who promised to deliver the letter to McConnell. "I said I'm happy to give it to the leader, as I do with every single leader that comes into this office," he said.

The group then deliberated their next move outside the Old Senate Chamber and soon decided to take the letter to both McConnell's personal office and the Senate Republican cloakroom, reported The Hill. Before continuing their mission, Ocasio-Cortez used McConnell's office printer to make additional copies of the document.

"We wanted to make sure he gets the letter," Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.), one of the Democrats, said. "We just wanted to see if we could get it to as many places as he would receive it."

Later, Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill) confirmed on Twitter that the letter was eventually dropped off with "Sen. McConnell's capitol office, Republican Cloakroom, on Senate Floor and his personal office."

"Everywhere we went, we left the same message: #EndTheShutdown and re-open the government," Underwood added.

The partial government shutdown — which has left around 800,000 federal employees either furloughed or working unpaid — went into effect last month after the president declined to sign a stop-gap measure to keep it running through to February. Trump refused the funding bill on the basis that it didn't include provisions to fund his proposed border wall — one of the president's key campaign promises. Now on its 26th day with no resolution in sight, the shutdown continues to drag on due to a stalemate between Trump and congressional Democratic leaders over funding for the wall.

While Ocasio-Cortez and freshman Democrats attempted to deliver McConnell's letter today, a separate letter, drafted by bipartisan Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.), urging Trump to sign a stop-gap measure to reopen the government, began circulating among Democrats and Republicans.

The letter, which is expected to be signed by over a dozen bipartisan Senators, could be sent to the president as soon as Wednesday.

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Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks with a colleague at the lottery draw for congressional offices November 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez and other freshman Democrats marched into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky) office to deliver a letter urging him to help end the shutdown. Getty/Win McNamee
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Where's Mitch, That's My Question' As She Tries to Deliver Letter to Republican Senate Leader During Shutdown | U.S.