The filibuster meant that 60 votes were needed for the bill to progress, but the vote went 50-50 on party lines, meaning that Democratic Senators were unable to move forward even the support of Vice President Kamala Harris, who can cast a tie-breaking vote when the filibuster is not in play.
As Insider previously reported, the bill includes the expansion of voter rights, softens voter-ID laws, bans partisan gerrymandering in redistricting, and also includes major campaign finance reforms.
A former senior advisor to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said he left his position on Capitol Hill earlier this year, in large part, because of low pay among Congressional staffers.
“She’s a great boss and I adored my colleagues,” Dan Riffle, former senior counsel and policy adviser for the influential New York lawmaker said in a Monday tweet. “But with two kids in daycare I just couldn’t afford the job.”
Riffle’s tweet was in response to a Monday letter, led by Ocasio-Cortez, calling for a budget increase among House offices in order to boost staff salaries.
More than 100 House members signed the letter addressed to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations. In it, lawmakers call for a 21% increase in order to account for a “much-needed” increase in staff pay and benefits.
The letter said an increase would be an “important first step” in recruiting and retaining a “diverse and talented workforce.”
The letter comes two weeks after a report by Insider’s Kayla Epstein detailed the shockingly low pay among many Capitol Hill staffers and the lengths some go to in order to live in Washington, DC, one of the nation’s most expensive cities, while still fulfilling their dreams of public service.
Junior level staffers can start out in the low $20,000s to $30,000s in a city where the average one-bedroom apartment costs more than $2,000 a month. Some resort to working second jobs on top of the demanding jobs for Congress.
Congressional staff jobs are notorious in the industry for their low wages, but according to Riffle, it’s not just the private sector that offers more competitive pay.
“It’s not just that the Hill pays less than K street,” Riffle said, referring to the street known as a hub for lobbyists and advocacy groups. “It’s less than non-profit or local gov’t.”
In a followup tweet, Riffle said he had taken a new job in local government.
Riffle did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
His former boss, Ocasio-Cortez, has been a vocal proponent of livable wages among workers, supporting a $15 minimum wage and frequently calling out corporations she believes don’t offer financial security or opportunity for their employees.
The young lawmaker has also been outspoken about the issue of staff pay since she took office in January 2019. Insider previously reported that salaries in her office start at $52,000, almost double what some offices pay their most junior staffers.
“She pays junior staff more than most other offices, and senior staff less than most, which was the right thing to do,” Riffle said in a followup tweet.
Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Each Congressional office is given the same amount of funding for staff salaries. It’s up to each lawmaker to decide how many staffers he or she will hire and how to divide up pay.
But as Congressional staffers wrap a historically difficult year that saw a pandemic, an insurrection, and economic downturn, higher wages could be on the horizon.
In a previous statement to Insider, Appropriations Chair DeLauro said, “A workforce that reflects America’s diversity is essential to a well-functioning Legislative Branch. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that Congressional staff compensation allows the House to recruit and retain a talented and diverse staff to help us carry out our important work.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and NYC mayoral candidate Maya Wiley were seen dancing at a Strokes concert in New York City Saturday night.
Videos posted to TikTok and Twitter show the pair enjoying the show from the mezzanine, waving to concertgoers below.
The concert was a fundraiser for Wiley, with all proceeds going towards the civil rights attorney’s mayoral campaign, according to NME. Wiley recently shot up to the second position in the polls, behind Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, after receiving AOC’s endorsement last week, according to PIX 11.
AOC was one of the openers of the show, along with comedian John Mulaney, who is making his return to comedy after a spell in rehab for alcohol and cocaine addiction this past winter.
The Strokes concert was the first indoor full capacity concert of its size in New York City since the pandemic happened, according to NME. Attendees were required to provide a negative COVID test in order to attend.
It was also the The Strokes’ first in-person concert since the pandemic, NME reported. The Strokes previously held a virtual event for Wiley.
Frontman Julian Casablancas said in a statement before the show that Wiley is “absolutely the best choice to be NYC’s next mayor,” according to NME.
He added: “She is the only leading candidate without a PAC (political action committee), so it’s a privilege to use art to support a non-corporate candidate fighting against difficult odds. She is a benevolent warrior; at City Hall, she got the cop who killed Eric Garner fired. We need to elect trustworthy people so when hard decisions need to be made behind closed doors, we know the people of NYC will be protected and in the best hands possible.”
In response, Wiley said she was “so thankful for The Strokes for their support for my campaign and my vision for this city and for their commitment to making this event happen safely and successfully,” according to NME.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York assailed the crawling pace of negotiations with Republicans on Wednesday, arguing Democrats are wasting time on the legislative calendar.
“Dems are burning precious time & impact negotiating w/GOP who won’t even vote for a Jan 6 commission,” she wrote on Twitter. “McConnell’s plan is to run out the clock. It’s a hustle. We need to move now.”
She also cited the futile experience Democrats had negotiating the Affordable Care Act with Republicans over a decade ago. They eventually passed it without Republican backing.
The New York congresswoman also strongly criticized the idea of Democrats “playing patty cake” with Senate Republicans in an earlier tweet, saying the current array of economic, political, and climate challenges facing the country demanded urgent action.
It comes as Biden recalibrates his approach a day after pulling the plug on negotiations with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the chief Republican negotiator on infrastructure. Both sides failed to strike a deal with sharp disagreements on the size of a package and how to finance it.
Now, another bipartisan group led by Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mitt Romney of Utah is poised to take the lead. Romney, along with Sen. Bill Cassidy, told Insider on Tuesday that the group of 10 senators was eyeing repurposing stimulus aid to states to finance infrastructure spending. Biden has already rejected that approach.
Romney on Wednesday ruled out tax hikes in the emerging plan. Tax increases on large firms, wealthy investors, and other high-earning Americans have constituted a core part of Biden’s economic spending plans.
Four Senate Democrats who lean moderate also expressed heightened concern that climate provisions were at risk of being left out in any infrastructure package. Biden’s two-part plans include setting up electric-vehicle-charging stations across the country.
“An infrastructure package that goes light on climate and clean energy should not count on every Democratic vote,” Sen. Martin Heinrich tweeted on Wednesday.
During an appearance on “All In with Chris Hayes” on Tuesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she doesn’t see the logic in Sen. Joe Manchin’s reasons for opposing HR 1.
HR 1, The For The People Act, would require states to expand voter registration as well as voting initiatives and would implement reforms to federal campaign finance and ethics laws.
In 2019, Manchin cosponsored HR 1, the For the People Act, but now opposes it because there aren’t any Republican votes for it. Manchin also opposes ending the filibuster, which if he supported the bill, would give Democrats a slim majority to pass the voting rights legislation without the threat of the GOP blocking it. The bill scraped by the House in March, with zero votes from Republicans.
“HR 1 stands up against lobbyists and dark money. I would reckon to think that this is probably just as much a part of Joe Manchin’s calculus as anything else. Because when it comes to this bipartisan argument – I don’t buy it,” Ocasio-Cortez said on MSNBC.
“‘Cause you look at the Koch Brothers and organizations like, you know, the Heritage Foundation and conservative lobby groups that are doing a victory lap, claiming victory over the fact that Manchin refuses to change on the filibuster,” she continued. “And I think that these two things are very closely intertwined.”
Ocasio-Cortez then went on to discuss what she sees as corporate money and lobbying groups in politics playing a role in funding attacks on voting rights.
As Manchin continues to oppose the bill in the Senate, Sen. Mitch McConnell has rejected Manchin’s bipartisan proposal to revamp HR 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, meaning that Manchin’s opposition to HR 1 limits congressional action on any voting law.
“Joe Manchin has voted on bills that are not bipartisan,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “There are those of us who acknowledge the existential threat and assault on to right to vote, and how they’re [Republicans] putting the pieces together at the state level, in Georgia, Florida and elsewhere, and how it’s being pieced together federally.”
Ocasio-Cortez also argued that Manchin’s opposition is not rooted in the reality of how voter suppression has historically affected Black communities in the US.
“Some members represent communities that have never had their right to vote attacked. Joe Manchin is absolutely one of them, he does not represent a large portion of Black voters. There usually is hesitancy when a member has to take out a risky vote on a community they don’t represent,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez connected the push for HR 1 with the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection and blasted colleagues who have downplayed the need for voting protections.
“We are hanging on a thread of democracy, we need to strengthen democratic institutions that were taken to the brink. There are some that have an unwavering faith in American institutions with no evidence to support that.”
Manchin is a Democrat representing West Virginia, a state that went to former President Donald Trump by 40 points. He is a moderate who often comes under scrutiny from the left-wing of the party.
The New York Congresswoman told the public radio show Latino USA that she’s learning how to “slow down” after the attack, which resulted in the deaths of five people including a police officer.
“After the 6th, I took some time and it was really [Rep.] Ayanna Pressley when I explained to her what happened to me, like the day of, because I ran to her office and she was like, ‘you need to recognize trauma’,” Ocasio-Cortez said, according to The Independent.
“And I feel like I learned this the hard way after my father had passed away when I was a teenager … That happened at a young age and I locked it away. You have to live with it for years,” she added.
She said, according to the Independent: “Oh yeah, I’m doing therapy but also I’ve just slowed down. I think the Trump administration had a lot of us, especially Latino communities, in a very reactive mode.”
Ocasio-Cortez previously revealed that she hid in the bathroom with a staffer while a mob of angry Trump supporters broke into the Capitol building, many of them chanting her name.
In her interview with Latino USA, Ocasio-Cortex said that the insurrection was deeply traumatizing for many members of Congress, who effectively “served in war.” She said the event also “impacted the actual legislative process” in Congress, according to NBC News.
More than 490 people have so far been charged in connection to the Capitol riot so far.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene attempted to flip the script about her behavior towards political rivals on Friday when questioned about a recent video of her taunting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Speaking to Greg Kelly on right-wing network Newsmax, Greene described several encounters with Democrats that she said make her the victim of aggression, contrary to what she sees as a skewed media narrative.
“They’re accusing me of being aggressive and saying that my mannerisms are wrong,” she said. “It’s definitely the other way round.”
Greene had come under intense criticism on several occasions for confrontational behavior and support of far-right causes, most recently on Wednesday when pursuing Ocasio Cortez on Capitol Hill “screaming,” as witnesses said. On that occasion, she inaccurately said that Ocasio-Cortez supported terrorists.
Recalling that, Greene told Kelly Friday that “there was no ethics violation against me, I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Kelly was keen to build the same narrative in his interview, saying that Democrats such as Ocasio-Cortez and Eric Swalwell – who has also been critical of Greene – are “picking on you.”
Greene agreed, saying, “They don’t know what to do with me because I’m not going to back down and be intimidated by their bully tactics.”
She cited several instances that she said constituted bullying from Democrats:
An altercation in January with Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, where Bush was “verbally assaulting me in the tunnels, screaming at me,” according to Greene. But when the incident was first reported, Bush said that it was Greene who berated her in the hallway after she had asked Greene to wear her mask properly.
In a live-streamed video from the tail end of the encounter, a voice can be heard shouting for Greene to put her mask on.
A standoff with Rep. Marie Newman, who in February planted the trans flag in what Greene described as “an aggressive manner” outside her own office. She also accused Newman of having “aggressively” bumped her shoulder while walking by her one time.
Newman did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. A video of Newman planting the flag can be seen here:
Meghan McCain slammed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for making all Republicans look like “psychotic barbarians,” the conservative co-host of ABC’s “The View” wrote on Twitter.
The daughter of the late Senator John McCain of Arizona also used the Twitter post to call out Greene for “behaving like an animal” in a now-deleted video of her antagonizing the New York lawmaker, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.
The quote tweet, posted on Friday night, was in response to a 2019 video showing the Georgia congresswoman taunting Ocasio-Cortez through her office’s mailbox.
This followed another more recent incident in which Greene aggressively pursued Ocasio-Cortez through the halls of Congress and shouted at her about her support for “terrorism” and “radical socialism,” according to witnesses.
“This is a woman that’s deeply unwell and clearly needs some help,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And her fixation has lasted for several years now.”
She added that “the depth of that unwellness” is a concern to other members of Congress, and that the “proper professionals” need to make the assessment. Earlier, she had called Greene a “pretty belligerent person” and called for greater civility in Congress.
Greene did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. There are no reports of Greene having any mental health issues.
The video from 2019, made before Greene was a member of Congress, had been deleted but was unearthed and shared by CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski on Friday.
Cellphone footage broadcast on Facebook live shows Greene and several companions outside Ocasio-Cortez’ office. “We’re going to go see – we’re going to visit Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Crazy eyes. Crazy eyes. Nutty. Cortez,” says Greene.
Finding the door locked, Greene taunts the New York progressive through the letterbox, calling her a “baby” who needs to “get rid of your diaper and come out and be able to talk to the American citizens.”
She and her followers then go on to write “traitor” and draw a border wall in Ocasio-Cortez’ guest book.
Greene agreed, saying she had been engaging in some “citizen lobbying.”
“We’re the American people, we’re the taxpayers, we should be able to go talk to members of Congress,” she said. She said that she had talked through the mail slot because the office was locked.
“This is her pattern, she doesn’t talk to anyone, she just hides in her office all day long and refuses to explain her policy,” said Greene.
Greene’s meteoric rise from ultra-conservative rightwing activist to member of Congress has been powered by an outspoken stance against Democratic progressives like Ocasio-Cortez, as Insider’s David Levinthal has reported. The 2019 video shows how far back that animosity runs.
In response to the video, Ocasio-Cortez criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, in a tweet, for trying to protect Greene.
“However, my concern is that the actual plan, their starting offer that they presented, doesn’t have the numbers necessary to actually do what they say they wanted to do,” she said. “That’s why we’ve been on the side of pressuring the administration to be a little more ambitious.”
Ocasio-Cortez offered overall praise for Biden’s actions since taking office. “I do think that the Biden administration – President Biden – has definitely exceeded expectations that progressives had,” she said during a virtual town hall in response to a question from NY1 television.
She added: “I’ll be frank, I think a lot of us expected a much more conservative administration.”
It was still early to judge whether the Biden administration would be “keeping or raising its ambitions” with future legislation, she said.
Ocasio-Cortez’s comments echoed those made by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group that has called Biden’s massive infrastructure plan “a welcome first step.”
“To that end, we believe this package can be substantially larger in size and scope,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, caucus chair, said in a statement after Biden introduced the plan.
On the other side of the aisle, opponents have said Biden’s American Rescue Plan proposal included too much spending that ranged too far from traditional infrastructure.
Speaking on Fox Business on Friday, Sen. Ron Johnson said he supported fixing roads and bridges that have been “ignored for far too long,” according to a transcript provided by his office.
But he said, “they’re enacting their radical, left wing, socialist agenda.”
Other leading progressives have defended Biden wide-ranging approach. Sen. Bernie Sanders earlier this month said the country needed to invest in “human infrastructure.”
“Education. Health care. Child care. Good wages. Affordable prescriptions. That’s human infrastructure. Yes, we have got to rebuild this country’s crumbling infrastructure,” he told CNN.
Progressives have also sought more action on the climate crisis. Ocasio-Cortez on Friday again pushed for a Green New Deal, which she said could create millions of jobs. Earlier in the week, she and Sen. Ed Markey reintroduced their plan.
“Historically there has been this tension between environmental – this idea that we have to choose between environmental concerns or jobs or the economy,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Friday.
“You may hear on Fox News or from Republicans who are trying to scaremonger around climate, that stewarding our Earth and transitioning to renewal energies will destroy our economy and kill jobs,” she added.
Biden on Thursday will mark 100 days in office with an appearance in Georgia, the White House said. He’ll participate in a car rally and “highlight how he’s delivered on his promises to the American people,” according to Jen Psaki, press secretary.