McConnell says House’s Supreme Court security bill can’t pass Senate
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned late Monday afternoon that a House bill to provide protection to Supreme Court justices and their staffs will not pass the Senate, ratcheting up a standoff with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who drafted a Senate bill to implement new protections only for Supreme Court justices, accused House Democrats of trying to stall the measure.
Cornyn’s bill, which he wrote with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), passed the Senate unanimously.
McConnell said he had informed House leaders Monday that if they pass a different version of the bill that provides bodyguards for Supreme Court justices and their clerks, it won’t make it to President Biden’s desk.
“The version of the Supreme Court security bill that apparently they’re going to try to pass on suspension tonight is not going to pass the Senate,” he said, referring to the House calendar for passing legislation quickly with two-thirds support.
“The security issue is related to Supreme Court justices, not nameless staff that no one knows,” he added.
The House Supreme Court security bill was not on the lower chamber’s schedule announced for Monday evening, but it’s expected to take up the measure this week.
Cornyn, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “All we’re trying to do is give the justices the very same protection that is available to members of Congress.”
“Capitol police can provide protective details for people who are under imminent threat, but they don’t have the authority in the Supreme Court to do the same thing, and I think this is playing with fire,” he said.
Senate Republicans have stepped up pressure on the House to pass legislation to protect Supreme Court justices after a 26-year-old armed man was charged with attempting to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Cornyn and Coons drafted their bill to protect Supreme Court justices after the a leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights decision, caused a public uproar. The public backlash sparked concerns about the safety of the justices.
“This is exactly why the Senate passed legislation very shortly after the leak to enhance the police protection for the justices and their families. This is commonsense, noncontroversial legislation that passed this chamber unanimously,” McConnell said on the floor last week.
“But House Democrats have spent weeks blocking it. The House Democratic majority has refused to take it up,” he said.
House Democratic leaders say they didn’t immediately pass the Senate bill because they wanted to draft a more robust measure.
“The justices are protected. This issue is not about the justices; it’s about staff and the rest. The justices are protected,” Pelosi said Thursday.
Mychael Schnell contributed.