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AOC says Democrats aren't doing enough with their Senate majority: 'We need to go after the Supreme Court'

Bryan Metzger   

AOC says Democrats aren't doing enough with their Senate majority: 'We need to go after the Supreme Court'
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says Democrats aren't acting like they hold a majority in the Senate.
  • "I don't know if most people in the country even know what party is in the Senate majority," she said.

Democrats may effectively have a 51-seat majority in the Senate, but they sure aren't acting like it.

That's the assessment of Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a member of the House oversight committee who says her party needs to use the tools of oversight far more aggressively.

"I would love if the Senate gavels were put to use, and all of them need to be put to use," Ocasio-Cortez told Brian Beutler, the author of the progressive Off Message newsletter. "I don't know if most people in the country even know what party is in the Senate majority at times."

The congresswoman said that the Senate's reputation for bipartisan comity and the institution's "clubbiness" — as opposed to the more raucous House, where members frequently argue with one another — was part of the issue.

When Democrats expanded their Senate majority after the 2022 midterm elections, they gained full control of committees and the ability to issue subpoenas on party-line votes — something they didn't have under the 50-50 majority they held for the first two years of Joe Biden's presidency.

"I think the Senate sometimes, oftentimes, fears anything that could be seen as partisan," Ocasio-Cortez said.

She pointed to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, as an example of someone who's engaging in effective oversight. Sanders has compelled CEOs of major pharmaceutical companies to testify after threatening them with subpoenas.

"When people see us scrapping and actually fighting in governance the way we promised we would in campaigns and in elections," Ocasio-Cortez said, "it actually strengthens our hand, it emboldens our hand, and we actually gain support."

The congresswoman said that Democrats needed to more aggressively "go after" the Supreme Court, adding that they should use hearings and subpoenas to "explore the entire network of issues that are most important to everyday Americans," including dark money and abortion rights.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on party lines in November to authorize subpoenas for the conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo and the billionaire GOP megadonor Harlan Crow, though those subpoenas have yet to be issued and would require 60 votes to be enforced — something unlikely to happen given Republican opposition.

And while the judiciary committee has held hearings on ethics issues at the Supreme Court, Ocasio-Cortez said those efforts had not been aggressive enough — and that her party had too often fallen back on the Senate's 60-vote "filibuster" rule to preclude further action.

"There are results that we can get that can completely bypass the legislative gridlock and constraints that we have solely through the power of oversight and hearings," she said. "This has nothing to do with the filibuster. This is an entire battleground that we are ceding, and there's no excuse for it."


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