House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has blocked a bill to increase security for Supreme Court justices, asserting that more time is needed to alter the legislation and that nobody is in danger.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) asked for unanimous passage of the bill on June 8, which was passed by the Senate in May. Such a request means a bill can pass without a recorded vote, but any single member can block it.
Pelosi objected, on the same day an armed man attempted to murder Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh.
During her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Pelosi explained her objection to the bill, saying the justices “are protected” and proposed alterations are about Supreme Court staffers such as clerks.
“We’re working together on a bill which the Senate can approve of,” she said. “No one is in danger over the weekend by not having a bill,” she added.
As she left the conference, a reporter noted that a man was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly attempting to kill Kavanaugh at his home in Maryland.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about … but nobody is in danger,” Pelosi replied.
“I don’t know how she can say that, knowing that you just captured a person who wanted to kill Kavanaugh and his family,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said at a separate briefing.
Attorney General Merrick Garland in May ordered around-the-clock protection at the homes of all nine Supreme Court justices, and several U.S. deputy Marshals spotted the man when he was dropped off by a taxi outside Kavanaugh’s home, according to court documents.
In the Senate, members of both parties have pushed for quick consideration of the bill.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) urged the House to move quickly during a panel hearing around the same time Pelosi explained her objection.
If House leaders want to expand the bill, “for goodness sakes, do it,” Durbin said. “Do it on a timely basis. Let’s get into conversation to get this passed once and for all. We need to do this.”
“The House has delayed action. I hope they’ll act soon,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the panel, said, before urging the Department of Justice to reconsider its decision not to charge protesters with violating a law that forbids gathering outside the homes of judges with the intent of influencing their votes.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said he spoke with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) late Wednesday and earlier Thursday, and believes the House could approve the bill soon.
Amending the legislation to include Supreme Court staffers is “perfectly reasonable” but “at the end of the day, what matters is that we act to protect our judiciary,” Coons said. “It’s my hope that if something comes back here from the House, that we’ll take it up and pass it quickly.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported the date of the objection. It was June 8. The Epoch Times regrets the error.