The caterwauling, fainting-couch histrionics, and pearl clutching over Republicans in the Senate keeping Elizabeth Warren from speaking on the Senate floor after invoking rules on decorum is all too ridiculous. Designed to prevent one Senator from impugning another in the chamber, the rule was invoked after Warren was warned about her constant attacks on Senator Jeff Sessions, who is in line to be Donald Trump’s Attorney General.
People are behaving as though the Senate has never done anything like this before and some are treating Elizabeth Warren as some ‘Mr. Smith Goes To Washington’ figure who is speaking truth to power from within, and it’s a load of crap. Naturally, cries of “sexism” have arisen from the usual suspects.
The fact is, the action the GOP took was tame compared to what the GOP did to one of its’ members when Senator Ted Cruz, on the floor of the Senate, accused Mitch McConnell of lying. People forget about this because it was largely an inside baseball situation, but it was pretty brutal.
Let’s take a trip back to 2015 and this story from Politico:
Ted Cruz just wanted a roll-call vote on Sunday. Instead, he got a smackdown.
Republican leaders, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), delivered what senators described as punishment for Cruz’s brazen floor tactics — the Texas senator first accused McConnell of lying and later sought to change Senate procedures in order to push for an Iran-related amendment.
So when Cruz came to the floor looking for at least 11 senators to agree to hold a roll-call vote, only three raised their hands. McConnell, sitting at his desk, turned around and peered at Cruz, who looked stunned at what had just happened. The Senate dispensed with his effort by a voice vote and quickly moved on, doing the same to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a Cruz ally who sought to use arcane procedures to force a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood.
It all went down in an instant, but the message was clear: If Cruz doesn’t want to play nice with his Republican colleagues, they will respond in kind.
What Cruz wanted is almost a formality in the Senate. To be shut down like that is one hell of a rebuke. All he was doing was seeking a roll call vote. When that was smacked down, other Senators had no problem ripping Cruz:
“You learn that in kindergarten: You learn to work well together and play by the rules,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander. “Another thing you learn in kindergarten is to respect one another.”
“I think it was a violation of the rules,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). “It’s not how you treat a colleague regardless of how you feel.”
“It’s very unfortunate,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said of Cruz calling McConnell a liar. “I know emotions run high on issues in the Senate, and those are the times when I think we have to take special care to abide by the rules of the Senate, particularly Rule 19, which is very clear that no senator is to impugn the integrity of another senator.”
“Let’s even assume that he’s right, which he wasn’t, you still don’t do that,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said of Cruz’s floor antics.
Not only that, several Republican Senators said McConnell was entirely clear about what he was going to do, disagreeing with Cruz’s assertions:
In interviews, several Republican senators said they could not recall a confrontation between McConnell and Cruz in a party lunch, as Cruz described it on Friday. They also said they were not surprised that McConnell forced a vote on the Export-Import Bank because he’s been saying he would for weeks, publicly and privately.
“There was no misunderstanding,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).
Similarly, Graham said that he went to the floor and told reporters on the day of the trade vote what the deal was: that McConnell would let proponents attach the Ex-Im Bank plan to the highway bill.
“Unless you have been completely missing in action, you’d know this day was coming,” Graham said. “I did a press release and floor statement” reiterating McConnell’s promises.
“I think he’s going down a road very few senators go,” Graham said of Cruz.
This is not about whether or not you agree with Ted Cruz or Mitch McConnell or the “establishment” vs. the “grass roots.” This is about those who are behaving as though Senator Warren was singled out for her behavior.
If Republican Senators invoke Rule 19 against one of their own, why should they be criticized for doing the same to a Democrat?