Rep. Jahana Hayes, along with other freshmen Democrats in the House, went looking for Senator McConnell Wednesday.
Rep. Jahana Hayes, along with other freshmen Democrats in the House, went looking for Senator McConnell Wednesday.
Rep. Jahana Hayes, along with other freshmen Democrats in the House, went looking for Senator McConnell Wednesday.
Rep. Jahana Hayes, along with other freshmen Democrats in the House, went looking for Mitch McConnell Wednesday.

Washington – Followed by a phalanx of journalists, Rep. Jahana Hayes joined a group of House Democratic freshmen Wednesday who went on the hunt for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Why did the new House Democrats go searching for McConnell, first in his state office in the Russell Senate Office Building, then in the Senate cloakroom, and finally on the largely deserted Senate floor?

The group, which included firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., wanted to give McConnell a letter signed by 30 freshmen urging him to allow votes in the Senate on House Democratic legislation to reopen the government.

“All we want is a vote,” Hayes said “Vote yes. Vote no. Just vote.”

But McConnell is holding fast to his promise to only hold votes on bills President Donald  Trump will sign. As the partial government shutdown stretched into its 26th day, there was no sign of a way to end the partisan stalemate over Trump’s demand for $5 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump invited some moderate Democrats to lunch at the White House on Wednesday, but failed to convince any of them to consider funding his wall before the government is reopened.

Meanwhile, most congressional business, especially in the Senate, has been slowed.

With no quick end to the shutdown in sight, the Trump administration continues to try to blunt the impact of the shutdown by ordering thousands of furloughed workers, without pay, back to work at their shuttered agencies.

The Food and Drug Administration, for instance, announced Tuesday that it would restart food-safety inspections at facilities that handle riskier products like fresh-cut produce. The FDA has been closed since Dec. 22 because it receives its funding from the Department of Agriculture’s budget which, like the budgets of eight other major federal agencies, has not been approved.

At a Capitol Hill event Wednesday, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District,  said the move does little to ensure the nation’s food supply is safe.

DeLauro, head of the Congressional Food Safety Caucus, said food inspections are a “staff-intensive task” that must be carried out broadly and often.

“The FDA has announced plans to bring back employees,” DeLauro said. “But they will be working with only one-third of the regular inspectors and they will also work without pay.”

DeLauro also said that if “there’s an outbreak of some sort,” states will have “no capacity to deal with it.”

“Protecting our nation’s food supply is paramount,” she said.

The Trump administration has also sent Internal Revenue Service employees who had been furloughed back to work to process tax refunds and income verification requests from mortgage lenders.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also announced it will call back to work about 2,500 employees to reopen about half of the Farm Service Agency offices around the country that help farmers in a number of ways, including the processing of farm loans.

While there is no movement toward an agreement that would reopen the government, some Senate Republicans are feeling pressure to distance themselves from Trump as polls show a majority of Americans blame the president and GOP lawmakers for the shutdown.

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, joined several moderate Democrats in proposing the government be reopened for three weeks to give Trump and congressional Democrats time to come to an agreement on border wall funding.

Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Wednesday asked Trump to postpone his State of the Union address — or deliver it in writing — citing security concerns related to the partial federal government shutdown.

The State of the Union address is scheduled for Jan. 29.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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13 Comments

  1. Representative Hayes is now the typical politician playing to the media. Does she really think stunts like this shows her in a positive light? She should be talking to the congressional leadership, you know the lady who she said she would vote against in the leadership role. I see no mention of that fact in this article. Maybe she should ask the leadership to agree to 1/2 of 1% of the budget when here party wanted to send 10 times this amount to foreign countries but no issue with her. Is she willing to put illegal immigrants ahead of the safety of American citizens?

    1. Good grief Larry. The Republican Party is equally culpable and you know it. From my perspective, Mitch McConnell is hiding out during the longest government shutdown in US history. That sounds like a “stunt” to me.

      And regarding those illegal immigrants … we are all illegal immigrants (excluding, of course the Native Americans whose land our ancestors stole out from under them).

      And I’ll bet you like paying $2.99 for a head of lettuce — because WITHOUT those illegal Immigrants, the cost of your lettuce jumps to $6. Both sides of the aisle need to exercise some civility and compromise or nothing will get resolved.

  2. The political grandstanding won’t change what is needed for resolution of this issue: for the President and the House/Senate leaders to negotiate a solution.

  3. The first thing she did was lie to her constituents by voting for Pelosi so she’s just a typical Democrat.
    That being said, fund the wall. If it doesn’t work take it down. We spend more money on unneeded stuff and aid to other countries.

    1. Jahana didn’t lie to her constituents, whalefan. Jahana Hayes COMPROMISED. Jahana gave Nancy Pelosi a term limit, and Nancy in turn has agreed to mentor the next generation of progressive leaders to run the Democratic Party when her term limit is up. That’s what COMPROMISE looks like!

      1. When I say I’m going to do one thing then do the complete opposite then I lied. She was asked if she would vote for Pelosi for speaker and said she wouldn’t. Then she did. That is the classic definition of a lie.

        The following is from dictionary.com

        noun

        a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive;

        an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

        46. Jahana Hayes (D-CT-5) NBC Connecticut (8/8/2018)

        “I would not vote for Nancy Pelosi.”

  4. When has CT elected a Senator or Representative to Congress of acclaimed distinction ? Is that surprising given CT’s designation of the nation’s most mismanaged State.

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