Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez still doesn’t have a regional office, and she says it’s because of the ongoing partial government shutdown. But other New York freshmen lawmakers don't seem to be having the same problem.
“There’s a lot of things we can’t do as freshman members,” Ocasio-Cortez, the newly elected Democrat from New York recently told Stephen Colbert when asked about the shutdown. “We can’t properly set up our district offices. We can’t get laptops delivered. We can’t start doing the work that we're elected here to do.”
“The downside is that we’re not able to get to work as much as we want to in the beginning, but the bright side is that it gives us a lot more free time to make trouble,” she said.
But despite her assertion that the shutdown is impacting new lawmakers’ ability to set up regional offices, the other three newly elected New York congressmen haven’t been prohibited, according to The New York Times.
The General Services Administration, which helps with the offices, told the newspaper it could not deliver supplies to a district office that hasn’t opened, but its services in terms of helping set up an office have not been hindered by the shutdown.
“We haven’t really run into any issues via the shutdown,” Jonas Edwards, a spokesman for Democratic Rep. Max Rose, told the newspaper. He said they were able to take over the office of incumbent GOP Rep. Dan Donovan, whom Rose defeated, and “have that open on Day 1.”
Additionally, a spokeswoman for Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat, confirmed he’s been able to open an office in Binghamton and Utica with “no issues due to the shutdown.”
Rep. Antonio Delgado, a Democrat, was also able to open an office in Kingston, New York, according to The New York Times.
Ocasio-Cortez, 29, said on Twitter that she did not take over her predecessor’s office due to an increase in rent. Her district encompasses parts of the Bronx and Queens.
“That spike would have meant less caseworkers for our community. Instead, we’re making a new space [with] a family business,” she said.
She also thanked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., for her office’s help with casework from Ocasio-Cortez’s district.
Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional website says an office in Jackson Heights is “under construction.” According to The Times, it won’t open until at least March. Some staffers have been working from an office in the Bronx belonging to a state senator, according to the newspaper.
Bob Capano, once an aide to former Rep. Bob Turner, R-N.Y., criticized her lack of a district office on Twitter.
“I know how important local offices are. No excuse for [her] not to have one yet,” he said. “Serve your constituents, less attacks on Republicans.”
Ocasio-Cortez, along with freshmen Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, led a protest march Wednesday urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to end the partial shutdown. She is also expected to attend the Sundance Film Festival which kicks off Thursday in Park City, Utah.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.