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Sen. Warren Violates Senate Rule, Complains About Consequences

Sen. Warren Violates Senate Rule, Complains About Consequences


There was a fair bit of drama in the Senate last night.

Senate Democrats are hosting yet another sleepover to protest the upcoming confirmation vote on Senator Sessions’ appointment as Attorney General, knowing full well they don’t have the votes to stop his confirmation. They pulled the same stunt prior to the confirmation vote for Betsy DeVos, the new Education Secretary.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) began reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter was written in protest of Sen. Sessions nomination as a federal judge in 1986, and according to Senate Republicans, spoke ill of the soon-to-be AG.

“Mr. Sessions has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters,” King wrote. The letter and her full statement are embedded beneath.

Sen. Warren was interrupted before being able to finish reading King’s letter and statement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked Rule 19 (which establishes rules for floor debate so as to keep the discourse civil), in particular, the bit prohibiting Senators from imputing the motives of other Senators from the floor.


Warren later read the letter outside the Senate floor.

She also tweeted about her displeasure with Senate leadership:

Maybe don’t violate parliamentary rules then? No one has been silenced. It’s as simple as the rule states. No senator is allowed to say whatever they please on the Senate floor, regardless of who wrote the words (it’s all spelled out here).

McConnell dinged Warren on a technicality and was within his rights to do so. But just because it was within McConnell’s realm of power to end Warren’s speech doesn’t mean he should’ve stepped in. At least not then. Why not wait until after she’d finished reading the letter? It’s not like allowing her to finish would’ve swayed any votes.

And now the narrative has been set and the story of a silenced Liz Warren trying to read a letter from Dr. Martin Luther King’s long-departed widow is internet history. An unforced error if ever there was one.

But really, can we stop with the drama?

I know, I know…but a girl can dream.

King’s letter:

Coretta Scott King 1986 Letter Jeff Sessions by Legal Insurrection on Scribd

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“…the bit prohibiting Senators from imputing the motives of other Senators from the floor.”

May I suggest “…from IMPUGNING the motives…”.

Why not wait until after she’d finished reading the letter? It’s not like allowing her to finish would’ve swayed any votes.

What, give her a mild “tut tut, we don’t do that in the Senate” after she’s done it? Well, if he wants to look like a total nebbish, that’s the way to do it.

He either enforces the Senate rules, or he doesn’t. A little whine about why he didn’t enforce the rules he should be enforcing, or pretending to enforce them after it’s too late, would be a notably feeble move, even for McConnell.

    Tom Servo in reply to tom swift. | February 8, 2017 at 9:06 am

    People are noticing that McConnell was enforcing Senate Rule XIX for the first time in a long time, suggesting that he’s been studying up on the rule.

    You may have seen a piece yesterday as to how Senate Rule XIX can slam dunk an attempted filibuster by the minority, without using the “nuclear option”. I think this shows that Mitch M. has been studying up on the uses of Senate Rule XIX.

    The piece that’s most noted was Sean Davis’ piece in the Federalist yesterday, but he based his article on this policy letter:

    (Admittedly this is much drier than the Sean Davis version)

    Long story short, I think McConnell is planning on defeating any Gorsuch filibuster without using the so-called Nuclear Option, and this move against Warren is a sing that he’s starting to openly practice the methods he’s going to use to do that.

      Tom Servo in reply to Tom Servo. | February 8, 2017 at 9:07 am

      “sign”, wish there was an edit button.

      That Heritage paper is well worth reading. It explores a rule from the first paragraph of Rule 19, the two-speech rule: “no Senator shall speak more than twice upon any one question in debate on the same legislative day.” A legislative day is not a calendar day and therein lies the possible route do defeating a filibuster without invoking the nuclear option.

      clintack in reply to Tom Servo. | February 8, 2017 at 11:48 am

      I hope you’re right.

      buckeyeminuteman in reply to Tom Servo. | February 8, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Tom, I read the article on The Federalist as well. It well described how to avoid going nuclear by letting everybody who dissents speak twice. This way he doesn’t force a vote with less than 60 agreeing to. One thing I’m still hazy on, wouldn’t the actual vote still require 60 Senators? If only 51 Senators vote to confirm, is that enough to make him a Supreme Court Justice?

        No, you only need 51 to vote in a justice. The thing that is the problem is that during the debate when the Democrats filibuster. The 60 votes are needed to end the filibuster debate (cloture).

        The rule method means dems run out of people who can debate and thus the debate ends when no one is left. Then the actual confirmation vote is held in which only 51 votes are needed.

          buckeyeminuteman in reply to Gunstar1. | February 8, 2017 at 3:35 pm

          Oh, so the 60 threshold in the Senate is for deciding to vote, not actually voting. Only 51 are needed to vote to confirm and pass bills.

      Since the Rule 19 was used in this confirmation process, many people are talking about its use as well as the potential use for the SCOTUS nomination.

      The use of the rule makes it easier for McConnell to use it again. It also makes it harder for the Ds to object to it due to non-use of the rule. IT may also make it easier for the Rs to convince dome of the Ds to just support Judge Gorsuch.

      A question – can a vote to close discussion occur and if voted down, can Rule 19 then be used?

    Here we are, thirsting for some fight from our “leadership,” and when some drops come in we complain about their temperature?

    Owego in reply to tom swift. | February 8, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Pretty much. I”m willing to concede that McConnell supports the cause in committee rooms, cloak rooms, men’s rooms, and the cafeteria, but he must feel a little good to have fought in the street for a change. Welcome to the fight, Senator.

How about a reading on how Senator Warren has Native American blood not in her veins, but on her hands?

    smalltownoklahoman in reply to EBL. | February 8, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Man I get the sentiment, but could you please use a better phrase next time? “Blood on her hands” implies that she has had a part in the killing or murder of Native Americans. Warren is a sleazy fraud who has used false claims of NA heritage to further her career and worse furthermore refused to back down on her claims when presented with evidence to the contrary. Despicable yes, and she should be called out for it every time we get a chance at it. However to the best of my knowledge, she’s not a killer. Accuracy matters (at least to me it does) and the phrase “blood on her hands” when there’s no evidence that she’s ever murdered anyone is a bit ridiculous to me.

Kurt Schlicter is starting to hint that he’s going to run against Fauxcahontas in 2018. That should be interesting. Now this isn’t to say he will win, because you know, Massachusetts. But that race will be hilarious! Schlicter already is getting known for being willing to say anything, and in a race like this he’s got a good chance of going so far over the top that he turns into the Howard Stern of American politics.

win, lose, or draw, that is going to be a hell of a show!

She understands her fifth column better than Mitch does. Rules or not, he should have known how this would be played, by her and her press lapdogs. No one would have even known she’d made a speech but for the drama of sitting her down. I’m glad to see the Majority Leader stand up for Sessions (and play the power game the minority played when they had the majority) but when it comes to Warren, ignoring her may be the best strategy.

    clintack in reply to Daiwa. | February 8, 2017 at 11:52 am

    I don’t know.

    In four years, when the American people have seen Jeff Sessions be the dignified, reasonable, professional kind of Attorney General we haven’t had in a long while… it could be useful if people remember the voice of the Democratic Party screeching that he would be a white supremacist shutting down black voting rights.

    That seems like a long-term win for the GOP, not for Democrats.

      Daiwa in reply to clintack. | February 8, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      One can hope. But the odds that the media will portray Sessions as any sort of reasonable, competent AG, no matter what he does, are slim to none. I still think simply ignoring Warren & letting her words and deeds speak for themselves is the way to go. No need to give her any oxygen whatsoever.

    Fiftycaltx in reply to Daiwa. | February 8, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Absolutely not. Punch back TWICE AS HARD! Use the “rules for radicals” against the regressive fascists. You have to remember only about 25% of the population believes the socialists. The main number of people that don’t follow politics 24/7 need to be informed of the lying, rule breaking socialist minority.

Tom Servo: you may be thinking of Kurt Schilling, as Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter is currently a California resident.
And after this episode, it seems clear that Warren herself is willing to “say anything”, no matter how vile.

McConnell did his duty. Simple as that. It was the right thing to do. You do the right thing, and let the consequence follow.

It isn’t that hard…indeed, not hard at all…to counter any inchoate “narrative” by the Collective. There is a rule. Warren violated it.

    heyjoojoo in reply to Ragspierre. | February 8, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Agreed. Unfortunately, today’s Dems (or maybe it’s millennials) seem to thrive on appearances too much; they thrive on innuendos, potential connections, almost-should-uh’s, sounds-likes, and seems-likes, rather than focusing on the reality of situation.

Humphrey's Executor | February 8, 2017 at 9:26 am

A previous Mass. Sen., Charles Sumner, was beaten to within an inch of his life in the Senate chamber after delivering a speech in which he mocked another Senator’s speech impediment and made colorful allusions about slavery being the other Senator’s ugly mistress. Those were the days.

Ms. Warren~ You can be taken seriously only when you show us evidence that AGs Holder and Lynch held Mr. Obama accountable for his legal breaches. Otherwise, yours is a fool’s errand.

I am glad to see conservatives adopting the Honey Badger model of response to progressive inanity.

I just Professor Jacobson has rewatched this clip a few times…it was glorious.

We can’t control the media, they won’t like us and Elizabeth Warren gets to say anything and she will. But, how awesome to finally see McConnell fighting where he should, in the Senate. I hope this means they realize they won and hold the majority, and should act like it.

Media be damned.

She was repeating discredited slanderous statements from the 1980s. Repeated ugliness from thirty years ago is still ugliness. It’s as if the ghost of Ted Kennedy still haunts the Senate. Time to put him to rest.

“Why not wait until after she’d finished reading the letter? It’s not like allowing her to finish would’ve swayed any votes.”

Because there are RULES against it! This is something that under obama we never saw enforced anywhere in the entire US government. If the Left didn’t like a rule, (Law), then they ignored it. Warren is making herself into a hysterical fool and the people of MA are starting to notice. Her popularity with average folk is falling and only among the radicals is she rising.

American Human | February 8, 2017 at 11:07 am

“I will not be silent while the Republicans rubber stamp an AG who will never stand up to the @POTUS when he breaks the law.”

I recall that she wasn’t silent when Eric Holder never stood up to POTUS when he broke the law…no wait, I don’t.

she knew she was going to get called on her verbiage -because when the objection arose, she picked up a piece of paper on which was written the verbiage for her canned response for this circumstance. good on Mitch.

9thDistrictNeighbor | February 8, 2017 at 11:35 am

Time to update

McConnell was honoring the long line of Senators who have come before and refrained from disrespecting another Senator from the Senate floor. It was not about committing or avoiding an “unforced error.” Building and preserving harmony is a concept lost on both the Left and the younger generations. You’re either building harmony, or you’re depleting it — and if you don’t know which you are, it’s the latter.

I kind of like that Coretta King wrote to super klan member Thurmond to complain about racism and squaw flying mouth read it without irony.

Media whore Screaming Fauxcahontas just might become the conservative salesperson of the year – rivaling the success of America’s greatest gun salesman, Chelsea Obama.

The Chair (not necessarily Mitch’s) has warned Senators in the past for their abusive remarks. This has generally been sufficient for them to dial it back. This time, however, we were treated to a very ungracious “I’m Elizabeth Warren. Screw you!”

Really, I expect no better from the Progressive Left. They’ll push and push as long as you let them. McConnell didn’t let her push – and somehow this is sinful? Give me a break.