Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and some of her fellow freshmen self-styled "activist" Democrat representatives spent part of Wednesday afternoon in a political stunt that ended up having some unexpected twists and turns.
Determined not to be constrained by congressional decorum, AOC and her team of charged-up freshmen reps marched over to the Senate side of the Capitol, eager reporters in tow, to hand deliver a letter signed by over 30 freshmen House Democrats to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell demanding that he call for the vote on a bill to end the longest partial government shutdown in history.
The point of the march to McConnell's office, declared Ocasio-Cortez, was to send him a clear message: He must bring the House Democrat-signed package for funding the government to a vote.
The big "activist" stunt triggered a "media circus," The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports. "Tourists thronging the Capitol Rotunda were startled by the group marching across the Capitol campus, with many recognizing Ocasio-Cortez on sight."
Joining Ocasio-Cortez were Reps. Jahana Hayes (CT), Lauren Underwood (IL), and Katie Hill (CA), who expressed frustration with the congressional impasse. "At this point, the only thing left is for us to make noise and that’s exactly what we’re doing," said Hill, the New York Post reports.
"Eight-hundred thousand people don’t have their paychecks," said Ocasio-Cortez. "So where’s Mitch?" At one point she offered her an answer to her own question: "He seems to be running away from us."
The Washington Post's Erica Werner offered play-by-play coverage of the search for McConnell on Twitter, which included the group of freshmen having a hard time locating his office, experiencing an awkward run-in with Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst and a group of pro-life Republicans, eventually realizing they'd gone to the wrong office, and then staging a bizarre mini-press conference.
"After being turned away from McConnell’s office for the second day running, House Dem freshmen now trying to find him on the Senate floor or Senate R cloakroom," Werner wrote in a series of tweets noted by Twitchy. "The House D freshmen are evidently now leaving a note on McConnell’s desk in the chamber."
"Sen Ernst, Fischer and others were doing a colloquy in support of March for Life as the House Dem freshmen tried to leave note for McConnell in chamber. 'We hope they enjoyed our message of life' Ernst says," Werner noted in a follow-up tweet.
"And now the House Dems - a smaller group including AOC, Katie Hill, Lauren Underwood- are heading to McConnell’s office in Russell to deliver their letter calling for votes to reopen government," she continued. "And now they are holding a press conference outside McConnell’s office. They are saying they ran on political activism and are now bringing it to Congress."
Bolton provides some more details on the Wednesday afternoon mission to find Mitch, including that the group of freshmen congressional activists were met by McConnell's deputy of chief of staff, Don Stewart who said he'd gladly give the letter to McConnell — "as I do with every single letter that comes into this office."
After "huddling" outside the Old Senate Chamber, Bolton reports, the group then decided to deliver copies of the letter to the Senate GOP cloakroom as well as McConnell's personal office in the Russell Senate Office Building, but there was a problem: they'd didn't have enough copies for their new strategy. So, Bolton reports, "McConnell’s staff offered the use of their copy machine" to make enough copies to complete their political stunt.
At the cloakroom they encountered "some confusion over the correct entrance to the room," Bolton notes. Then, Ocasio-Cortez was stopped and asked to remove a political button from her lapel because such an item is prohibited on the Senate floor.
After reportedly sitting for a while on benches in the back of the chamber, they decided to split up, a smaller group heading to McConnell's office in the Russell Senate Office Building.
Asked if McConnell was "hiding" from the freshmen Democrats, Stewart said, "No, he was not. I'm not even sure he had advance notice they were coming."
McConnell, he explained, had been busy all day with his various senatorial obligations, the NY Post reports. As for the group of Democrats, Stewart said they'd been told that McConnell wouldn't be at his second office or the Senate floor. But they headed there anyway, and made sure the cameras followed.
This article has been expanded to add more details and revised for clarity.