If GOP lawmakers’ had hoped to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren in her public stand against the confirmation of her colleague, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, as attorney general — their plan appears to have backfired in a big way.
In the wake of their highly publicized decision on Tuesday to rebuke Sen. Warren for reading an excerpt of a letter critical of Sessions penned by the late Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King and a civil rights icon in her own right, supporters of the Massachusetts lawmaker have flocked to social media to get her back.
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Besides “#Warren” becoming top trending Twitter topic on Wednesday, the hashtags “#LetLizSpeak” and “#ShePersisted” also became popular ways of showing solidarity with the progressive politician.
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Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have argued that Warren’s decision to read past text critical of one of her Senate colleagues into the record is a violation of the body’s rules of decorum. Rule No. 19, says senators cannot “directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”
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However, this rule has not been invoked recently, for instance when Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called Sen. McConnell a “liar” on the Senate floor in 2015.
On Wednesday, Democratic Sens. Tom Udall, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders all read the Coretta Scott King letter in its entirety to the Senate — this time with no objections for the two men.
And former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has largely avoided wading into partisan squabbles since the 2016 election, weighed in Twitter, with the quote, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” followed by her own aside, “So must we all.”:
Warren, who later shared the letter on social media, had her microphone cut and was told to sit down in an act which many have interpreted as sexist and disrespectful.
And while Republicans have balked at calls for Sen. McConnell to apologize for his treatment of Sen. Warren, she has no regrets.
“It is eloquent, and it reminds us of a time in history that we would like to think is far behind us but reminds us that it is not,” she has said of King’s letter.
“Democrats have the minority in the House, the minority in the Senate, but that does not make us the minority party,” Warren added Wednesday in an interview on MSNBC. “We are the party of opposition, and that is our job.”
The Senate rejected Sessions’ nomination to the federal bench in 1986 in part because of concerns over racist remarks, policies and behavior he was alleged to have engaged in. His nomination then and now was opposed by a number of civil rights groups and activists.
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And a number of critics have raised concerns, particularly in the aftermath of President Trump’s decision to fire acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce his controversial immigration ban order, about Sessions ability to hold the president accountable and whether or not he will aggressively prosecute civil rights and voting rights violations.
Still, Sessions, who was also opposed by Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. John Lewis in dramatic Congressional territory, enjoys broad support from Senate Republicans, and his confirmation as the 84th attorney general in U.S. history is all but assured.