Ocasio-Cortez on food assistance cuts: 'If this happened then, we might've just starved'
Democrats call for increased security after 'send her back' chants
Lawmakers on Thursday expressed alarm over the threats toward freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) after a crowd at President Trump's rally the night before chanted "send her back."
Multiple Democrats are calling for more enhanced security for members of Congress, including Omar and her three closest allies who were also targeted by Trump earlier this week when he suggested they all "go back" to other countries.
Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) announced on the House floor that he plans to introduce legislation asking for more security resources for lawmakers. While members of leadership in both parties have dedicated security details, rank-and-file members do not.
"This is an important time in this country. These are dangerous times. Every member of this House needs additional security," Green said.
"Leadership has adequate security. Members do not have adequate security. I want to thwart the efforts of those who might want to harm a member of this House," Green continued.
Asked by reporters if she was scared for her safety, Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, said "I am not. What I'm scared for is the safety for people who share my identity."
"This is not about me. This is about fighting for what this country should be and what it deserves to be," Omar said.
The House voted on Wednesday to table a resolution from Green to impeach Trump for inflaming racial tensions in America that cited the attacks on the four congresswomen as the latest example.
Omar on Thursday stressed the importance of lawmakers sending the message that we're "all welcome, irregardless of what he says."
"And so I'm going to go vote on minimum wage and uplift millions of people," she said, stepping into the House chamber as lawmakers were about to pass legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), one of the four lawmakers targeted by Trump this week, said Thursday that she's concerned for her safety amid heightened attacks from Trump on her and the members of her "squad," accusing the president of targeting the minority lawmakers at risk of inciting violence against them.
Asked if she is concerned about her security, Ocasio-Cortez was blunt.
"Of course. I think part of the point is to target us," she said. "The president is evolving, as predicted, deeper into. ... the rhetoric of racism which evolves into violence."
She added: "It's natural to be concerned about our security."
Ocasio-Cortez said the caucus is "having conversations" about how to address those concerns, but did not provide any details about the substance of those talks or whether targeted members have been offered additional security.
Earlier this week, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) sent a letter to Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, who currently chairs the Capitol Police Board, to set thresholds for "enhanced security for certain targeted members."
"Being proactive in this instance is vital to the safety of not only these targeted members, but all members of Congress," Thompson wrote in the letter, which came after Trump's tweets over the weekend attacking the four progressive freshmen: Omar and Ocasio-Cortez, as well as Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).
In the letter, dated Monday, Thompson asked Stenger to convene an emergency meeting of the Capitol Police Board within 48 hours and requested a classified readout.
Thompson told The Hill on Thursday that he hadn't yet received a response to his letter. He plans to send another letter in the aftermath of Trump's rally "just to highlight the ongoing threat, that what the president is saying is not helping the safety of members."
Thompson previously urged the Capitol Police Board to convene an emergency meeting in April after Trump tweeted an edited video of Omar talking about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Earlier this week, the Capitol Police chief said that threats against lawmakers are increasing and projected that the number of threats this year will break last year's record.
During the rally Wednesday night in Greenville, N.C., Trump mentioned each of the four Democratic lawmakers by name and listed quotes that he argued demonstrated how they are outside the mainstream. As Trump spoke about Omar, the crowd broke into chants of "send her back."
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), who represents the district where Trump's rally took place, said that he's worried the president is "inciting many of those to the dark side."
"I'm concerned about the safety, not just for the four women, but the safety of everyone who is similarly situated," Butterfield said.
"The president needs to check himself. And we need to check the president to make sure that he understands the gravity of his conduct," Butterfield continued.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who like Butterfield and Omar is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said she is "frightened" by the atmosphere on display at Trump's rally.
"I am concerned for women of color, who may be fighting on the foreign shores as to how their morale would be," Jackson Lee said. "I certainly am concerned about my fellow members of Congress who, as everyone has said, have been duly elected by their constituency. And I am frightened about highlighting a woman whose birth was first in Africa."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), meanwhile, defended Trump, saying the president's message is simply that "if you don't love America, you can leave."
"He doesn't pinpoint any individual," McCarthy said. "He talks about the love of America."
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot and gravely wounded in 2017 when a man opened fire on a baseball practice by the House GOP team. The man who shot Scalise had made a number of postings on Facebook highlighting a hatred for Republicans.
In 2011, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot and gravely wounded by a man who opened fire on a constituent meet-and-greet at a grocery store parking lot. Six people were killed in the shooting.
Scott Wong contributed.