McConnell Abuses Senate Rules to Silence Warren

February 08, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Sumbitches

Last night, during debate on the nomination of well known racist, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Elizabeth Warren was reading the actual letter from Coretta Scott King to the Senate in 1986 urging the rejection of him for a federal judgeship.  The letter, where King outlined in detail Sessions long record (even back then) of voter suppression and indifference to civil rights violations as a US Attorney, weighed heavily on the Senate which eventually rejected his nomination.  While Warren was reading from the well of the Senate, Turtle Neck McConnell objected to the reading based on Rule 19 of the Senate which prohibits the disparagement of a Senator by another Senator. Steve Daine (R-Montana) immediately ruled against Warren.  She called for a vote and lost 49-43 along party lines and is now forbidden from speaking further during this debate.

So, the United States Senate just invoked an archaic rule to stifle the debate about another Senator who is aspiring to the highest law enforcement office in the land.  In this particular case, the words being stifled were those not of Warren, but Mrs. King who had so vehemently objected to Session’s nomination to the federal bench all those long years ago.  So, here are the new rules: If a Senator is up for a higher position that is subject to Senate confirmation, those who oppose that particular nomination are forbidden to discuss why they are in opposition.  Welcome to totalitarianism.

Here is the initial exchange:

Here is Warren reading the letter outside the chamber after she was ejected:

Pass it on.


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30 Comments to “McConnell Abuses Senate Rules to Silence Warren”

  1. That Other Jean says:

    Napoleon got it right: “Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake.” Mitch McConnell may have shut down Senator Warren on the Senate floor, but he handed her all the media in the country–and the rest of the world–as a platform for her objections. Nice work, Mitch! You couldn’t have done worse by your party, or your nominee, if you’d been trying. Keep it up.

  2. To recap:
    Republicans object to Coretta Scott King’s letter, they don’t object to actions that led Ms King to write the letter.
    Republicans object to Senator Warren reading the “offensive letter but they didn’t object to, nor were they offended by “Grab them by the pussy”.
    Republicans object to reading into the record the actions a Cabinet nominee took to disenfranchise minority voters but they don’t object to SILENCING a sitting US Senator on the floor of the US Senate.
    That about cover it?

  3. Wyatt Earl says:

    EVERY democrat in the senate needs to try to read the King quote. The rethugs will silence the first half dozen or dozen or so, and the headlines will be great.

  4. mike from iowa says:

    And you expected anything less from wingnuts?

  5. Is there anything that we as citizens can do? Is there any action we can take? If this was an abuse of power by Congressional Republicans, how do we fight it?

  6. JAKvirginia says:

    laura: Much can be done. As I learned today in a WaPo OpEd, the Congress can release Trump’s tax returns without his permission. They did that to Richard Nixon when suspicion about his taxes came to a head. And I’m certain there are other arcane but still in force rules or procedures we are unaware of. All we need is someone who knows this stuff like the knowledgeable professor from UVA who wrote that OpEd. Now… where are they? That’s the rub.

  7. Laura, I’m faxing a copy of Coretta’s letter to every Republican in the Senate. This won’t accomplish anything but it will annoy the heck out of them and sometimes that counts. Put your Senators phone numbers on your cell phone, I call mine daily (both the local and DC offices). The switchboard is (202) 224-312 but dialing direct works better! Find an indivisible chapter near you, sign up, show up for protests, take a page from the Tea Party obstructionist playbook.

    Above all be like Liz, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless she persisted.”

  8. Of course, since they have THEIR base, they are not at all worried about the African American vote, the women’s vote, the vote of all Americans who valued Dr. King. So they spit in the eye of a dead woman unable to defend herself inasmuch as she is not among the living. Classy? Not. Courageous? Never. A political tin ear? Got that one down to a science.

  9. We need more Nasty Democratic Women and Nasty Democratic Men representing us in the House and Senate. Wyatt Earl has the right idea. Get up on your feet and read that letter!
    Make the Rethugs show themselves for the hypocrites they are.

  10. Check out Bernice King advise on how to oppose Trump. There is a article in The Hill. I just typed in her name.

  11. I consider it a strategic blunder of epic proportions to have pissed off Elizabeth Warren. McConnell must be even dumber than I thought.

  12. James Pirtle says:

    The odd thing about this is that Senator Warren was reading
    something from the Congressional Record. If it is a part of the Congressional Record how can it impugn a sitting senator? And does he have any asparagus left tom impugn?

  13. 1smartcanerican says:

    Senator Udall (D) was allowed to read the Coretta Scott King letter after Senator Warren (D) scared the heck out of McConnell and his band of rogues and he told her to basically “hush up!”. What you say? It’s ok if a man reads the letter but a woman must “hush up”? I don’t think this will go well for the GOP. Of course, Sessions will be confirmed just because the GOP has the numbers to do it and seldom does anyone in the GOP vote against the party line and when they do, as in the DeVos case, they do so knowing that they aren’t making a difference in the outcome but are giving temporary satisfaction to their state. What a mess we are in!

  14. Jane & PKM says:

    James Pirtle and others, please feel free to correct me when I am wrong. This could be one of those times, as my hearing and cognitive skills suffer when there is smoke coming out of my ears.

    From what I heard on the TeeVee machine last night, Senator Warren had to search for a copy of Mrs. King’s 1986 letter. It was not in the Congressional Record because Strom Thurmond did not submit the letter to the record. Sen Warren would have been correcting that egregious oversight, when she was rudely interrupted.

    To expand of Deb’s excellent synopsis, in 1986 Strom Thurmond buried the evidence. Fast forward to 2017 and Mitch McConnell objects to the evidence because he has no clue as to either the meaning of impugn or character.

    Senator Udall reads the letter to the Senate. Which leads to the question as to mansplainin’ in Mitch’s version of Senate Rules. Just to be clear on that point, Senators Harris, Cortez-Masto and Feinstein should also read the letter. And, every Democratic Senator at the mic today should make the obvious link between the behavior(s) of Strom Thurmond, Mitch and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.

  15. I’ve been looking in on Keith Olbermann where he is on you tube here
    Nice platform and a good rallying call. For those who might be interested.

  16. Daniel Rice says:

    She was warned? Uh, oh yes, warned, she was.

    Reporters tend to want to defend Rule 19 by explaining they used to fist-fight in the room. But a fist fight is an assault and therefore a crime for which the participants may be arrested. Saying something that ruffles an old man’s panties is called Freedom of Speech. Of all places that speech should be respected, regardless of its content, should be the United States Legislature.
    Such arbitrary edicts are constitutionally infirm.
    And excuse me for insisting, but a bill to that effect should be filed by some thoughtful American Senator and pursued vigorously. Or a federal civil rights lawsuit should be filed by the dems.
    Meanwhile, back to the majority leader’s wardrobe, it strikes me someone should pursue his screaming conflict of interest due to his wife’s position in the Trump administration, and his arrogant violation of the separation of powers doctrine due to the same relationship, both personal and financial.
    Isn’t it time someone has the courage to call out the emperor?

  17. daChipster says:

    the word actually used in rule XIX is “impute,” not “impugn,” which Mitch and everyone got and still gets wrong.

    “no Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”

    Although, technically, imputing conducts or motives unworthy or unbecoming may be said to impugn the Senator, the use of impute in the actual rule means assign, or ascribe or attribute such conduct or motive

    By reading the letter, Sen Warren is indirectly attributing the conduct and motives in Mrs King’s words to Senator Sessions.

    What McConnell fails to comprehend, is that he just agreed that Sessions’ conduct and motives as described ARE unworthy or unbecoming.

    McConnell just proved Elizabeth Warren’s point.

  18. Jane & PKM says:

    daChipster, thanks for the correction. Impute. I’ll remember that, when I call to impute Dean Heller for his vote today, tomorrow and every day the snacilbupeR continue to rubber stamp Donnie’s KKKabinet of Kakistocrats. Jeff Sessions at DOJ. Ovey!

    The only “upside” is maybe with legal advice from Jeff, Donnie will manage his own impeachment before the his first 100 days of deplorable are complete.

  19. The double standard is alive and well and living in the U.S. Senate.

  20. Now, y’all don’t be shy about correcting me if I am wrong, but all that imputing another Senator was written way back when times were certainly different as in we hadn’t walked on the moon yet. In today’s high tech society it sounds not only irrelevant but downright silly! There is such an undercurrent of pomposity in it! Just like the electoral college sounds wacko to us ‘cuz for one damn thing we’ve been to the moon and back. And hell yes those achievements make a huge damn difference even though there is a substrata for society that swears it was a movie produced by the government . . . conspiracy . . . conspiracy . . . thy name is crazy!

  21. Heh,
    Watching our Senator’s face when she was interrupted, kind of like she was reading her children’s favorite story and someone told her to leave now (rudely), was indicative of the importance she places in Mrs. King’s words. Then looking at McTurtle’s countenance, and realizing he was seriously angry, was one of those WTF moments that resides in History. I mean, has McTurtle ever done that before?
    Sen. Warren didn’t intend it, but she managed to crack the Turtle’s shell! As for Sessions, I seriously doubt that he will avoid confirmation given the party line vote to shame Sen. Warren.

    And so it goes ;-(

  22. Ranger Jay says:

    She was warned.
    She was given an explanation.
    Nevertheless she persisted.

  23. Several memes are percolating on Twitter about this, some skewering McTurtle and some about the snacilbupeR as a whole. The one that seems to have the best legs is given to us by the stoopid old turtle himself. (My apologies to real turtles and tortoises everywhere.)

    “She persisted.”

    Mitchell, you chinless reptile, you’ll come to regret your misogynistic assholery in this instance, perhaps more than ALL the other times.

  24. two crows says:

    So, by McTurtle’s reckoning, if a sitting senator is nominated to any post in any president’s cabinet THERE CAN BE NO DEBATE ABOUT SAID CANDIDATE ON THE SENATE FLOOR. Because decorum.

    Meanwhile, I saw three news programs last night that skewered him. [Hey, they weren’t on the Senate floor! So they’re in the clear.] Heard another, this morning, on NPR and saw two more today on PBS and a commercial channel. And I heard that, as of 10 o’clock this morning there had been over 3,000,000 [that’s THREE MILLION] hits on Warren’s reading of Mrs. King’s letter on Face Book, alone. No word on the numbers that watched it on You Tube.

    Brilliantly played, McTurtle. If you wanted everyone in the country to point at you and snicker, you won the round.

    As Rachel put it last night, “I can’t believe this is the hill Senator McConnell chose to die on.”

  25. Rule 19 can’t apply to advise and consent on the nomination of a person for appointment to a Constitutional Office. If it did the standard for appointment would be completely different for an incumbent Senator than for any other nominee and friggin Sessions proves the point dead cold. Before he was a Senator everything ruled out of order last night was a part of the record leading to his rejection for the federal district court bench. Now that he’s a Senator identical facts can’t enter the record because no Senator can point them out. Sure sounds like an Equal Protection violation to me. You know why the Parliamentarian was not asked to rule? The objection was out of order. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions did not stand under consideration as a Senator. He had been nominated by the President to fill the Constitutional Cabinet Office of Attorney General and he stood in the Senate in that capacity with the same status and subject to the same scrutiny (frequently harsh and partisan on both sides) as any other nominee. His status as a sitting Senator is flat irrelevant and the Rule doesn’t apply to nomination proceedings, save as to the debate between the Senators and the language directed at oneanother.

  26. First of all, Deb #2, spot on!!!

    1) I watched Warren’s speech, or at least much of it, on replay on CSPAN. Yes, she was warned by the person in the chair and the parliamentarian, but after some back and forth questions & answers, she specifically asked if she could continue reading the letter and was told “Yes”. So “she persisted”, and then was dressed down by McConnell later.

    2) Not only Senator Udall, but Sens. Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, and Sherrod Brown, all men, read Mrs. King’s letter on the Senate floor. And were not stopped.

    3) Saw a tweet that we should all send postcards to McConnell and the resident with the words “Nevertheless, we persist”.

    Senator Mitch McConnell
    317 Russell Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510

    President (take your pick, Trump or Bannon)
    1600 NW Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500

  27. Can we just send our cards and letters to

    Current Resident
    1600 NW Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500


  28. Tilphousia says:

    My applause to all of you. Called Sen Warren’s office and left a message telling her how proud of her I am. Ole turtle face turned his phone off. Guess he locked the door too like the craven cowards in the House when confronted by angry constituents.

  29. Just heard that it really wasn’t the King letter that was the subject of the silencing, but a newspaper article. So what? Senator Warren could have been reading from the telephone book and McTurtle would have done the same damn thing! He really, really bombed! Telling a woman, Senator or not, to shut up is suicidal! Of course, being an R, he would not have known that as they run by different rules when it comes to women as the Current Occupant of the WH proves.