Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) received a warning early Sunday morning to follow the Senate’s decorum rules after he accused Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) of being “deceitful” and “dishonest” and vowed “we’re going to call you out.”
“This gives phony and cynical a bad name,” Graham exclaimed when Hassan introduced her amendment.
Graham’s outburst at Hassan prompted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to sternly remind the South Carolina senator not to impugn the motives of a fellow senator.
Murphy reminded Graham and all senators not to “impute to another senator or other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming of a senator.”
The admonishment came after Graham slammed Hassan, who faces a competitive reelection race this November, for proposing an alternative to his amendment to strike a 16.4-cent-a-barrel tax on imported petroleum products and foreign oil refined in the United States.
“They wouldn’t let you do this in professional wrestling. If you think people are this dumb, you’re going to be sadly mistaken,” Graham fumed on the floor.
Graham warned Democrats on Friday the debate and vote-a-rama on the budget reconciliation would be “hell.”
Graham accused his colleague Sunday morning of fake theatrics after Hassan urged colleagues to vote for what she called her own amendment to strike the surcharge on barrels of oil — something she proposed moments after voting against Graham’s amendment to repeal the surcharge.
The key difference was that Graham’s amendment was set at a 50-vote threshold and had a chance of passing if one Democrat voted “yes” while Hassan’s amendment had to overcome a 60-vote threshold and therefore had no chance of becoming part of the bill without 10 Republican votes.
“What she’s doing is trying to strike the provision that she just voted against but it requires 60 votes, so she can [vote] for repealing a gas tax she just voted against [repealing],” Graham declared, accusing Hassan of trying to “look good for the voters.”
“What you’re doing is deceitful. It’s dishonest. And we’re going to call you out,” Graham vowed.
That direct attack prompted Murphy to step in.
“The senator are reminded to address each other through the chair and in the third person,” he said.
“Senators are reminded to address all remarks through the chair in the third person and to be mindful of Rule 19,” he said.
Murphy as the presiding officer at the time of the heated exchange could have ordered Graham to take his seat.
The Senate’s Rule 19 allows the presiding officer to “call to order” a senator who directly attacks or insults a fellow senator.
If such a formal rebuke is made, the offending senator’s words will be read aloud to the Senate and the presiding chairperson can order the senator to sit down and be quiet.
Graham settled down after Murphy’s warning.