A hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions devolved into an exchange of personal attacks on Wednesday.
Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma had a heated confrontation with Teamsters President Sean O’Brien, who was testifying as the leader of the union organization.
Mullin, who owns a plumbing business among other interests, according to his Senate web page, questioned O’Brien’s salary. He was met with sharp language on the part of the union official.
Damn. Teamsters President Sean O’Brien called Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin a “greedy CEO” after Mullin went after him during a very heated exchange during a congressional hearing. pic.twitter.com/jCbnGXtkFm
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 9, 2023
The union official even told Mullin that he was “out of line,” a remark that spurred Mullin to demand O’Brien’s silence.
“Shut your mouth,” he said.
“Tough guy,” O’Brien responded.
“You’re going to tell me to shut my mouth? Tough guy. ‘I’m not afraid of physical’…,” O’Brien said, mocking some of Mullin’s earlier comments.
According to Fox News, Mullin had said he’s “not afraid of physical confrontation” with union workers he said were attempting to intimidate his employees.
Teamsters president Sean M. O’Brien vs. Sen. Markwayne Mullin in the Senate this morning. pic.twitter.com/K6ET5KjWhl
— jordan (@JordanUhl) March 8, 2023
At one point, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who chairs the committee, intervened to calm things down.
Sanders cut off Mullin as the dispute escalated, chastising the Republican and urging a return to normal procedures of testimony.
Mullin claimed his inquiry into O’Brien’s salary was merely rhetorical, whereas Sanders sought to allow O’Brien to answer the question in his own words.
The Oklahoma senator had earlier criticized O’Brien’s opposition to right-to-work laws, state statutes that prohibit mandatory employee contributions to union organizations.
If union bosses were really for the employee, they’d drop the intimidation tactics and allow private ballots for workers to freely choose whether or not to join a union. @GOPHELP pic.twitter.com/rZL9ffWptP
— Markwayne Mullin (@SenMullin) March 8, 2023
Longstanding congressional decorum obligates witnesses to treat senators and representatives with deference.
It’s generally unusual for witnesses to openly spar with members of Congress, although it’s not unprecedented.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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