The House will not vote Thursday on a Senate-approved plan to increase security for Supreme Court justices’ families amid partisan disagreements over whether those protections should extend to other employees of the high court.
Senior Democrats had scrambled to nail down a bipartisan agreement on the bill, which took on fresh urgency after police arrested an armed man making death threats Wednesday outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home. But Senate GOP leaders have rejected proposed language from House Democrats who argue that other employees, such as court clerks, should have similar protection.
Action on Supreme Court security is “in the works,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday, vowing to take it up “at the beginning of next week.”
“It’s about staff and the rest. The justices are protected,” she said. “Nobody is in danger over the weekend because of our not having a bill.”
The Senate passed the initial bill unanimously last month after POLITICO reported on a draft majority opinion that showed the court prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, sparking demonstrations outside the homes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, the author of that draft opinion. Before the Senate passed that bipartisan Supreme Court security bill, there was also discussion about potentially extending security assistance to clerks.
And immediately after the Kavanaugh threat became public, upper-chamber GOP leader Mitch McConnell publicly prodded the House to act.
House Democrats are now “assessing options for quick consideration” of the security bill next week, according to a Democratic aide who spoke candidly on condition of anonymity. The chamber also faced a floor time crunch on Thursday, as dozens of members prepared to leave early this afternoon to attend the Summit of the Americas.
“I think that House Judiciary Chairman Nadler is intent on making sure that we can cover as many people who are vulnerable as possible and I agree with with that stance, and I hope that we can accomplish that,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s subpanel overseeing federal courts and wanted legislation to cover law clerks and staff.
Some progressives had also objected to the potential fast-tracking of the security legislation.
“There were some murmurings that there was an attempt to pass it by unanimous consent,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “I think the day after these hearings with gun violence, I personally feel that it is insensitive and sends the wrong message for Congress to move swiftly on that matter, but to not move swiftly to protect our kids.”