In response to the rebuke of Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the longest-serving woman in the history of the Senate stepped up and warned of dire consequences for conservatives.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who served the state of Maryland in the Senate for 30 years, made an appearance on CNN’s New Day and told host Alisyn Camerota:
“This is going to have a long-lasting effect because the people who marched watched this and I will tell you, the women are tired that different rules are applied to us in a different way when we claim our power.”
Warren was shut down on the Senate floor on Tuesday while trying to read a letter written by the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King. The letter, written 30 years ago, opposed the nomination of Jeff Sessions for a federal judge seat. Sessions was under debate on Tuesday as Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general. The 30-year-old letter from Mrs. King argued against Sessions’ appointment as a federal prosecutor, saying he misused his power to interfere with “the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”
While Elizabeth Warren was reading the letter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked Rule 19, prohibiting a senator from impugning another while on the floor. McConnell accused Warren of attacking Sessions’ character.
Mikulski told CNN that senators employ Rule 19 arbitrarily. She notes that the rule wasn’t invoked when Sen. Harry Reid was referred to as “a cancer on the nation,” nor when McConnell himself was called a liar from the floor. Mikulski said:
“Elizabeth Warren was not out of order. The attack on her by using Rule 19 was out of order.”
Mikulski also told Camerota that there is a pattern of such behavior.
“I see this as a pattern of behavior. “Women stand up in the boardroom, the workplace, and now even on the Senate floor, where we have the same job, and the rules, they’re applied differently to us and they were applied differently to Elizabeth Warren.
“Senator Warren was reading from a historic record, from quoting a historic person, it was relevant, it was reasonable, and I think whenever women stand up — and particularly reading now a letter from a woman of color — they are told to shut up and sit down.”
Most infuriatingly, Elizabeth Warren’s male colleagues later read the same letter from Mrs. King on the Senate floor without admonishment. According to CBS News, Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont were all permitted to read the letter without being rebuked.
Mikulski also referenced support for Warren from former Democratic Party presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. Clinton posted on Twitter, quoting McConnell’s smug remark about his shutdown of Warren’s remarks, and adding her own last words.
“’She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted’
“So must we all.”
"She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted."
So must we all.https://t.co/JXROGHPNkH
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 8, 2017
Mikulski talked about her and Clinton’s shared experience as women in the Senate:
“Once you’re a woman in the Senate, you know that you have to square your shoulders, put your lipstick on and fight on. And I believe that Hillary is analyzing how she can once again make best use of her incredible talents, encourage others to be part of the political process.”
Mikulski also took the opportunity to provide some fascinating historical context for Rule 19:
Former Sen. Barbara Mikulski defends Sen. Warren: "Whenever women stand up … they're told to shut up and sit down" https://t.co/EOW28W7xHc
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 9, 2017
“Rule 19, which is designed to maintain the decorum of the Senate, where a senator can’t attack another senator, the rule comes historically from when they used to have fist fights in the Senate. And also, some would come and had had a little too much bourbon and would say vile and vulgar things about each other.”
You can watch Mikulski’s interview with Camerota below: