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McConnell Vows To Block House Bill On Supreme Court Security If It Includes Protection For Staff

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Mitch McConnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has vowed to block a House bill to provide protection to Supreme Court justices if it includes protection for their staff as well.

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, 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 late Monday, according to The Hill.

“The security issue is related to Supreme Court justices, not nameless staff that no one knows,” he added.

Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders say they want 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,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

After the leak of the draft abortion opinion, the names of law clerks that some observers suspected of being the potential leaker circulated in internet forums and some fringe news sites.

Asked Monday why Republicans wanted to omit staff from the bill, McConnell said House Democrats were taking “an unnecessary shot at sending a message about how proud they were that something leaked over at the Supreme Court.”

GOP Sen. John Cornyn, of Texas, said, “People know who the Supreme Court members are. They don’t know who the staff is.”

“All we’re trying to do is give the justices the very same protection that’s available to members of Congress,” he added, saying Democrats were “playing with fire.”

Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons, of Delaware, who co-wrote the Senate bill with Cornyn, said there was no good reason not to include staff members alongside justices. But he also said he was “surprised and frustrated by the impasse that we’re at.”

Before the announcement Monday night, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said: “it’s incredible to me … the Senate would not vote to protect the employees,” but he also said party leaders were consulting with members about continuing the standoff. About an hour later, his office announced Tuesday’s vote on the Senate bill, the Washington Post reported.