Chuck Schumer Takes a Flamethrower to McConnell’s Attempt to Silence Elizabeth Warren

Chuck Schumer Takes a Flamethrower to McConnell’s Attempt to Silence Elizabeth Warren

If you were wondering if Democratic Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer had it in him to fight the surreal attacks on democracy courtesy of the Trump administration, wonder no more.

Senator Schumer took a flamethrower to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s use of Rule XIX to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren Wednesday on the Senate floor.

Schumer blasted McConnell for the Republican double standard, their undermining of free speech, and charged that their selective enforcement of a rarely used rule in an effort to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren was “the only violation of the spirit of mutual respect and comity in this body that occurred last night.”

Watch here:

(Continued Below)

“Mr. President, there is a shocking double standard here when it comes to speech — and unfortunately it is not constrained by the four walls of this chamber,” Schumer began.

Schumer tied Republican attempts to silence free speech last night to the Trump administration’s war on free speech, “While the Senator from Massachusetts has my Republican colleagues up in arms by simply reciting the words of a civil rights leader, my Republican colleagues can hardly summon a note of disapproval for an Administration that insults a federal judge; tells the news media to ‘shut up’; offhandedly threatens a state legislator’s career; and seems to invent new dimensions of falsehood each and every day.”

“I certainly hope that this anti-free-speech attitude is not traveling down Pennsylvania Avenue to our great Chamber. Especially, Mr. President, when the only speech being stifled is speech that Republicans don’t agree with — Even speech that is substantive, relevant, on point to the matter this body is considering, and appropriate and measured in tone.”

“And I’d make a broader point. This is not what America is about – silencing speech, especially in this chamber. What we do here is debate: debate fiercely and forcefully, but respectfully.”

“(E)very member on the other side of the aisle ought to realize that what they did to Senator Warren was selective enforcement. It was the most selective enforcement of a rarely-used procedure to interrupt her…to silence her.”

Boom goes the dynamite, “…And it was the only violation of the spirit of mutual respect and comity in this body that occurred last night.”

Factcheck: True.

Americans who are paying attention are growing increasingly concerned as Republicans try to thug their way out of transparency, accountability, and democracy.

Senate Democrats might not have known what they were up against in the beginning, but it seems we have a warrior spirit in Sen Schumer, who is not afraid to respectfully but forcefully take a flamethrower to the shameful tactics of Senate Republicans.

Schumer’s full remarks:

Mr. President, we here in the Senate have a tradition of mutual respect among our fellow Senators. We have a spirit of comity. It’s a tradition that I hold in high esteem.

Last night, that tradition was violated and the Senate went in a very bad direction.

My Republican colleagues, I believe, were far too zealous in trying to enforce that tradition, and in doing so, were guilty of the exact same thing they were trying to police.

My friend the Senator from Massachusetts was reading a letter written by Mrs. Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. to the Judiciary Committee – her testimony about then-nominee Jeff Sessions to be a federal judge.

For that, the Chair and my friend the Majority Leader interrupted her remarks, invoked Rule XIX, and forbid her from continuing. The Chair directed the Senator to take her seat.

In my view, it was totally, totally uncalled for.

Sen. Warren wasn’t hurling wild accusations, she was reading a thoughtful and considered letter from a leading civil rights figure.

Mr. President, anyone who watches the Senate floor on a daily basis could tell you that what happened last night was the most selective enforcement of Rule XIX.

My friend the Senator from Massachusetts was here when one of her colleagues called the leadership of my dear friend Senator Reid, “cancerous,” and that he “doesn’t care about the safety” of our troops. That was not enforced as a Rule XIX violation.

But reading a letter from Coretta Scott King – that was too much.

Suggesting that the distinguished Majority Leader had repeatedly lied to the press, a comment made by a fellow Republican by the way – that was fine.

Reading the letter of a civil rights icon? At least to the other side — unacceptable.

Mr. President, just last week I heard a friend from the other side accuse me of an engaging in a “tear-jerking performance” that belonged at the “Screen Actors Guild awards.”

It was only the second time that week I had been accused of fake tears on the floor of the Senate, but I didn’t run to the floor to invoke Rule XIX.

…But when my friend from Massachusetts read a piece of Congressional testimony by Coretta Scott King – she was told to sit down.

Why was my friend from Massachusetts cut off when these other — much more explicit, much more direct, much nastier — attacks were disregarded?

Mr. President, there is a shocking double standard here when it comes to speech — and unfortunately it is not constrained by the four walls of this chamber.

While the Senator from Massachusetts has my Republican colleagues up in arms by simply reciting the words of a civil rights leader, my Republican colleagues can hardly summon a note of disapproval for an Administration that insults a federal judge; tells the news media to ‘shut up’; offhandedly threatens a state legislator’s career; and seems to invent new dimensions of falsehood each and every day.

I certainly hope that this anti-free-speech attitude is not traveling down Pennsylvania Avenue to our great Chamber. Especially, Mr. President, when the only speech being stifled is speech that Republicans don’t agree with — Even speech that is substantive, relevant, on point to the matter this body is considering, and appropriate and measured in tone.

And I’d make a broader point.

This is not what America is about – silencing speech, especially in this chamber.

What we do here is debate: debate fiercely and forcefully, but respectfully. The founders of the Republic and titans of the early Senate – Webster, Clay, and Calhoun – debated until they were blue in the face! From time to time, they probably had tough words for one another.

We’re not afraid of tough words in America. We don’t look to censure speech. The Rule is only intended to keep Senators on the facts; to keep them from making baseless accusations about another’s character. My friend from Massachusetts was following the letter and spirit of the Rule last night. She was engaging in that tradition of forceful but respectful debate when she was cut off.

That’s not what the Senate is about. That’s not what our country is about.

Mr. President, every member on the other side of the aisle ought to realize that what they did to Senator Warren was selective enforcement. It was the most selective enforcement of a rarely-used procedure to interrupt her…to silence her.

…And it was the only violation of the spirit of mutual respect and comity in this body that occurred last night.

Image: Screen cap via CSPAN

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