A congressional listening to devolved into an indignant confrontation between a senator and a witness on Tuesday after Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma challenged Sean O’Brien, the president of the Worldwide Brotherhood of Teamsters, to “stand your butt up” and settle longstanding variations proper there within the room.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the chair of the Senate panel that was holding the listening to, yelled at Mullin to sit down down after he challenged O’Brien to a struggle.
Mullin had stood up from his seat on the dais and appeared to begin taking his ring off.
“That is the time, that is the place,” Mullin instructed O’Brien after studying a collection of crucial social media posts O’Brien had despatched about him previously. “If you wish to run your mouth, we will be two consenting adults. We will end it right here.”
The 2 males by no means got here nose to nose within the listening to room.
However they hurled insults at one another for round six minutes as Sanders repeatedly banged his gavel and tried to chop them off.
‘You’re a United States senator!’
Sanders, a longtime union ally, pleaded with them to deal with the financial points that had been the main focus of the Senate Well being, Schooling, Labor and Pensions Committee listening to, which Sanders was holding to assessment how unions assist working households.
“You’re a United States senator!” Sanders yelled at Mullin at one level.
Mullin, a frequent critic of union management, has sparred earlier than with the union head. Earlier this yr, O’Brien posted repeatedly about Mullin on X, previously often called Twitter, calling him a “moron” and “stuffed with s–t.” This adopted a separate listening to the place Mullin criticized O’Brien for what he mentioned had been intimidation techniques.
In one other social media put up, which Mullin learn aloud at Tuesday’s listening to, O’Brien appeared to problem Mullin to a struggle. “You already know the place to search out me. Anyplace, Anytime cowboy,” O’Brien had posted.
The alternate escalated from there, with Mullin telling O’Brien that “that is the place” and asking if he wished to do it proper now. “I might like to do it proper now,” O’Brien mentioned. Mullin replied: “Effectively, stand your butt up then.”
“You stand your butt up,” O’Brien shot again.
When Mullin acquired up from his seat, showing prepared for a struggle, Sanders yelled at him to sit down down, banged his gavel a number of occasions and instructed each of them to cease speaking.
“This can be a listening to, and God is aware of the American individuals have sufficient contempt for Congress, let’s not make it worse,” Sanders mentioned.
As Mullin persevered, O’Brien retorted: “You challenged me to a cage match, performing like a 12-year-old schoolyard bully.”
The 2 traded indignant insults for a number of extra minutes — every referred to as the opposite a “thug” — with Mullin at one level suggesting they struggle for charity at an occasion subsequent spring, repeating a proposal he made earlier this yr on social media.
O’Brien declined, as a substitute suggesting they meet for espresso and work out their variations.
Mullin accepted, however the two saved shouting at one another till the subsequent senator, Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, began her questioning by speaking over them.
Change referred to as ‘absurd’
After the listening to, Sanders referred to as the alternate “absurd.”
“We had been there to be speaking about, and did discuss, the disaster going through working households on this nation, the rising hole between the very wealthy and everyone else and the position that unions are taking part in in enhancing the usual of residing of the American individuals,” Sanders mentioned.
“We’re not there to speak about cage preventing.”
Requested later in regards to the skirmish, Senate Republican Chief Mitch McConnell demurred.
“It is very troublesome to regulate the behaviour of everyone who’s within the constructing,” McConnell mentioned. “I do not view that as my accountability.”
Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota mentioned references had been made to the back-and-forth in a GOP convention assembly after the listening to.
However he mentioned it should not be taken too significantly.
“It is a dynamic place,” Cramer mentioned of the Senate. “We do not put on the white wigs anymore.”