Nevertheless, She Persisted

ArchiveHere is the C-Span link to the Senator Elizabeth Warren-Rule XIX violation from Tuesday night debate on the Sessions nomination for Attorney General.  Below are some observations and thoughts about the incident that had been reported in many places.  Many reports (here, wrong, here) seem to insinuate that Warren was cut off and not able to finish the 1986 letter, and additional male senators were allowed to read the letter without violating rule 19.    (Find a timeline of the Start of Warren’s comments to the point where she is no longer allowed to speak.)

  • Elizabeth Warren read the Coretta Scott King in its entirety. (Video mark 4:45-5:03)
  • Warren spoke for 40 minutes criticizing the nominee and putting forth the reasons that she feels he is not qualified to be the next Attorney General.  She laid into him pretty good.  McConnell (McConnell’s staff) could have pulled something-anything out of the Warren speech that occurred after the initial warning (26 minutes of Warren impugning Sessions with remarks made by King, Kennedy, and Sessions himself).
  • If the floor of the Senate cannot debate a nominee who happens to be a sitting Senator in the same way they can debate a nominee that is not a Senator; maybe this is not the body to conduct the debate in.  -or- Suspend the rule so a Senator can provide reasons in a debate without the use of the rules to silence criticism.
  • The Chair needed too much help from Senate staff to know what to say (See 5:16 in the video)
  • After the Ron Paul fiascos (2012); Republicans (and all politicians, for that matter) should learn the parliamentary rules, chamber rules, Robert’s Rules of Order, etc.  to know how to navigate the process.
  • Senators need to sit down and show up when the Senate is in session.  McConnell most likely was not in the room when the King letter was read, instead relying on staff to spoon feed him what to read.
  • I don’t know why Warren did not make a point of the fact that McConnell’s citation occurred prior to the first warning.  In my mind, you get warned and then if later statements are made in violation than you can be called on it.  But Warren was already warned on the exact language that was used to make the statement that she persisted.
Time line to video with hour:minute markers.

4:26 Warren Begins
4:45 Warren reads CS King letter
4:50 Warren Warned by the Chair
        Warren continues to read the letter in its entirety
5:03 Warren completes the reading of the letter
5:16 Warren interrupted by McConnell while stating Session’s past statements about Muslims and sharia law and the extent it informs the current executive order of President Trump
        McConnell brings back the discussion to the Coretta Scott King statement as for the continuing violation of Rule XIX (the statement was made just prior to the Warning from the Chair).  McConnell is quoting a statement that was made at 4:46; four minutes prior to the warning.
5:16  Warren asks to continue
         McConnell objects
5:17  Chair finds Warren in violation of Rule XIX
5:17  Warren appeals the ruling; and suggests the absence of a quorum (room is basically empty)
5:18  McConnell leaves the room
5:26  Quorum not present (McConnell back in the room)
5:30  Quorum still not present to act on Warren’s appeal
         McConnell moves to round up the Senators
6:11  For the motion to round up the Senators (88 Ayes, 3 nays): a quorum is now present
6:12  THE QUESTION BEFORE THE SENATE IS WHETHER THE DECISION OF THE CHAIR TO HOLD THE SENATOR FROM MASSACHUSETTS IN VIOLATION OF RULE 19 SHALL STAND AS THE JUDGMENT OF THE SENATE.
6:34  THE PRESIDING OFFICER: ON THIS VOTE, THE YEAS ARE 49, THE NAYS ARE 43. THE DECISION OF THE CHAIR STANDS  Appeal defeated.
6:34 MR. McCONNELL: SENATOR WARREN WAS GIVING A LENGTHY SPEECH. SHE HAD APPEARED TO VIOLATE THE RULE. SHE WAS WARNED. SHE WAS GIVEN AN EXPLANATION. NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED. I YIELD THE FLOOR
A parliamentary inquiry came: WOULD ONE SENATOR CALLING ANOTHER SENATOR A LIAR DURING DEBATE ON THE SENATE BE A VIOLATION OF Rule XIX
PRESIDING OFFICER: IN THE OPINION OF THE CHAIR, IT WOULD.
6:35  HARRIS (CA): I MOVE TO THE SENATOR FROM MASSACHUSETTS BE PERMITTED TO PROCEED IN ORDER.
7:02  THE PRESIDING OFFICER: ON THIS MOTION, THE YEAS ARE 43, THE NAYS ARE 50. THE MOTION IS NOT AGREED TO
Warren is unable to continue
From Finding at 5:17 to conclusion at 7:02  1 hour 45 minutes to take 3 votes.  2 hour and 36 minutes from the time Sen. Warren got up until she was not allowed to continue.
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