Ocasio-Cortez and freshmen Dems seek out McConnell in bid to end shutdown

Fast-rising freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezLawmakers 'failed us' says ICE chief Pelosi, Democratic leaders seek to quell liberal revolt over border bill Bronx restaurants thank Ocasio-Cortez for her endorsements MORE (D-N.Y.) and a group of fellow freshmen Democrats marched to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellEXCLUSIVE: Trump on reparations: 'I don't see it happening' Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Trump issues order to bring transparency to health care prices | Fight over billions in ObamaCare payments heads to Supreme Court Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns MORE’s (R-Ky.) office Wednesday afternoon to hand-deliver a letter urging him to help reopen shuttered federal agencies.

The unorthodox move caused a media circus on the Senate side of the Capitol on what was otherwise a sleepy afternoon with little action on the Senate floor. 

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Ocasio-Cortez said the message to McConnell was to “reopen the government” and bring a House package to fund federal agencies “to a vote.”

The letter has been signed by more than 30 House freshmen, a majority of the class.

Tourists thronging the Capitol Rotunda were startled by the group marching across the Capitol campus, with many recognizing Ocasio-Cortez on sight. She became an overnight sensation after defeating longtime Democratic leader Joseph Crowley (D) in a primary last year. 

"Oh my god, this is your life!" exclaimed Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarPelosi, Democratic leaders seek to quell liberal revolt over border bill Migrant children moved after reports of poor conditions at remote facility: report Who are the House Democrats backing Trump impeachment? MORE (D-Texas) to Ocasio-Cortez when she saw all the excitement caused by her colleague's walk across the Capitol.

The group was met in McConnell’s reception area by his deputy chief of staff, Don Stewart, who accepted the letter and promised to deliver it to the GOP leader.

“I said I’m happy to give it to the leader, as I do with every single letter that comes into this office,” he said.

The freshmen Democrats then left McConnell’s office and huddled outside the Old Senate Chamber.

They decided they would then deliver the letter to the Senate GOP cloakroom and to McConnell’s personal office in the Russell Senate Office Building. The problem, however, was they didn’t have enough copies.

McConnell’s staff offered the use of their copy machine. 

“They didn’t make a copy of their letter so we’re making a copy for them,” Stewart said.

The freshmen then marched in the direction of the Senate chamber to deliver copies to the Senate Republican cloakroom, encountering there some confusion over the correct entrance to the room.

Ocasio-Cortez was then stopped as she tried to enter the chamber and asked to remove a big blue and white political button from her lapel, as such items are prohibited from being displayed on the Senate floor. 

The group sat for a while on the benches lined along the back wall of the chamber but there wasn’t any action on the Senate floor and they soon got up.

The freshmen then split up, with a smaller group going to Russell to find McConnell’s personal office.

“We wanted to make sure he gets the letter,” said Rep. Susie LeeSuzanne (Susie) Kelley LeeMORE (D-Nev.), who helped organize the effort. “We just wanted to see if we could get it to as many places as he would receive it.”

--Updated 5:50 p.m.