‘#WheresMitch?’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other freshman Democrats are moving blame for the shutdown from Trump to Mitch McConnell

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib accompany other freshman House Democrats to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office on Wednesday.

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Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib accompany other freshman House Democrats to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Wednesday.
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YURI GRIPAS/Reuters

  • Freshman House Democrats marched through the halls of Congress on Wednesday to deliver a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, demanding that he hold a vote to reopen the government.
  • The tactic appears to be part of a new round of messaging from Democrats on the shutdown, which reached its 26th day on Wednesday.
  • “It’s literally Mitch McConnell at this point, this is Mitch McConnell’s problem,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram Live on Tuesday night.

Nearly a dozen freshman House Democrats marched through the halls of Congress on Wednesday to deliver a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, demanding that he hold a vote to reopen the government, which has been shut down for 26 days.

The group stopped by the Senate majority office, the Senate cloakroom, the Senate floor, and McConnell’s personal office, but had no luck finding the elusive Republican.

“He seems to be running away from us,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said to fellow lawmakers. She later tweeted a new hashtag, #WheresMitch.

Ocasio-Cortez made clear that House Democrats are placing full blame for the ongoing partial shutdown – sparked by a dispute over border-wall funding – on McConnell, who has so far refused to consider several bills passed by the House that would end it.

“We have several Republican senators who have agreed to vote to reopen the government – it’s literally Mitch McConnell at this point, this is Mitch McConnell’s problem,” Ocasio-Cortez told her followers on Instagram Live on Tuesday night.

Ocasio-Cortez and others are charging that McConnell is keeping the government closed simply to please President Donald Trump and protect his reelection chances in 2020.

“It is impossible to have a meaningful policy discussion while the executive holds public servants hostage,” the letter reads.

The tactic appears to be part of a new round of messaging from Democrats on the shutdown. While freshman lawmakers are intent on directing the ire of their constituents toward McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have focused their attention so far on the White House, dubbing it the “Trump Shutdown.”

On Wednesday, Pelosi heightened that pressure, telling Trump that he’ll have to reschedule his State of the Union address (set for January 29) if the government remains closed.

While Democrats have largely expressed a united position on the shutdown, seven centrist Democrats in the House – all members of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus – met with Trump at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the shutdown.

The government shutdown – sparked by a dispute over border-wall funding – is the longest government closure in history.

Ocasio-Cortez livestreams a visit to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office.

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Ocasio-Cortez livestreams a visit to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office.
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Screenshot/Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Instagram

Another group of freshman House members visited McConnell’s office on Tuesday: