Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio who’s been serving in the upper chamber of Congress for more than a decade, has pretty much got a handle on how to push the Right’s buttons at this point. He does it in the halls of Congress, he does it on Twitter, and most importantly, he refuses to take sh*t from anyone.
So when Sherrod Brown took the floor on Sunday night in the Senate and began to regale the chamber with details on how Republicans have maneuvered us into the mess we’re currently in — in terms of the government shutdown, in terms of the disastrous tax bill they just passed, and even in terms of leadership or lack thereof — he did it with style and grace.
There was just one thing left for the GOP to do when Brown started dropping truth bombs on them over their incompetence and hypocrisy: Use an obscure Senate rule about “civility” to shut him up. And they certainly tried.
Brown was in the middle of a speech calling on Republicans to re-open the government — since, you know, they’re literally the only party that can open the government while they hold absolute power in Congress and the White House — and he got to the part about the bill that was holding everything up, the Continuing Resolution. Members of Congress call it a “CR,” and what it does is replace a long-term budget with a short-term spending plan. A CR is what Congress uses to keep things going when there’s fundamental disagreement between the majority and minority parties on big-ticket items that would have to be included in a larger, more official appropriations budget.
The tax bill was written in Sen. McConnell’s office by a bunch of tax lawyers. And now this resolution to keep the government open was, again, written down the hall in Sen. McConnell’s office. There’s no input from Democrats. This body — 49 Democrats in this body. We represent more than half the population of this country, yet we were not included in this discussion. They just do this limp along one-month at a time resolution.”
Senator Brown is correct on all counts here: There may be fewer Democrats in the Senate than Republicans, but as has been the case for nearly two decades, the number of Americans represented by Democrats has been far greater than those the Republicans represent. For example, the junior Senator from North Carolina, Thom Tillis, interrupted Brown at this point to invoke Rule 19 — the same rule Republicans used to silence Elizabeth Warren when she made them uncomfortable during confirmation hearings for our notoriously racist Attorney General. Senator Tillis represents half the population of NC, as one of the two Senators from the state, while Senator Brown represents half the population of Ohio — a far greater number.
So why does a more junior Senator from a smaller state who represents fewer people get to tell Sherrod Brown to shut up?
Because that’s all they have. And here’s what it sounded like when Brown objected to the interruption:
The chair is merely reminding all senators of the rule.”
Oh. Right, then. The Rule. Thanks for reminding everyone, Thom, of the Republicans’ inability to govern, and the fact that you’re forced to stick your fingers in your ears and yell “SHUT UP” until the big meanies go away.
Watch the exchange here:
Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images