Senator Warren Silenced on Floor by Senate Rule 19

Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) was silenced midway through her speech opposing AG nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions. Image C-SPAN screengrab
Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) was silenced midway through her speech opposing AG nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions. Image C-SPAN screengrab

After setting up a roll call vote in a near empty Senate Chamber, using a relatively unknown Senate rule, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senator from Kentucky, bullied Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren into silence on the Senate floor.

Warren had taken to the floor during the debate on Senator Jeff Sessions nomination as Attorney General. Initially, she spoke the words of her predecessor, former Senator Edward Kennedy, who in a statement in 1986 labelled Sessions as a “disgrace.”

Warren was warned after reading Kennedy’s statement and then moved on to read portions of a letter and statement that the widow of Martin Luther King Jr had sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 when Sessions was being vetted for a federal judge seat.

Interrupting Warren’s speech, McConnell cited Senate Rule 19, Saying that she “impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama.”

Warren’s speech can be viewed in entirety in the video below:

A copy of the letter and statement that Warren had tried to read on the floor of the Senate can be seen at the bottom of this article.

Freshman Senator from Montana, Steve Daines, who was presiding over the chamber told Warren, “The senator will take her seat,” after McConnell came to the floor and said that the reading of King’s letter, crossed the line.[xyz-ihs snippet=”Adsense-responsive”]Other Democratic Senators took to the floor to speak out further against Trump’s nominee, and two, California Senator Kamala Harris and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse attempted to have King’s letter placed into the Senate record and allow Warren to speak again, but Republicans refused.

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While silenced in the Senate Chambers, Warren was not silenced outside of the room, and took to Twitter to send out a flurry of tweets, one of which said:

Then, finding a small area outside of the Senate chambers, Warren took to Facebook Live and read King’s letter there.


During the debate on whether to make Jeff Sessions the next Attorney General, I tried to read a letter from Coretta Scott King on the floor of the Senate. The letter, from 30 years ago, urged the Senate to reject the nomination of Jeff Sessions to a federal judgeship. The Republicans took away my right to read this letter on the floor – so I’m right outside, reading it now.

Posted by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday, February 7, 2017

By 6 am Alaska Time, Warren’s video had been viewed well over 6 million times.[xyz-ihs snippet=”Adsense-responsive”]