Monday, September 27, 2021

Senate attempt to silence Warren backfires

Washington, Feb 8 (EFE).- The Republican attempt to silence liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the upper house earlier this week backfired, in effect making her into a megaphone for the indignation of those opposed to the policies and actions of President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.

Amid the debate on the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to the post of attorney general, Republicans voted to silence Warren, who was attempting to read aloud a letter referencing the nominee written by Coretta Scott King, the widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Democratic Representative from Texas Sheila Jackson Lee (2-L) other members of the Congressional Black Caucus pause before a bust of Martin Luther King Jr., in the Capitol Rotunda; while walking to the Senate floor to protest the silencing of Democratic Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren (not pictured) on the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 08 February 2017. Senator Warren was silenced on the Senate floor, 07 February, when Senate Republicans voted that she was in violation of Senate rule 19 when she read from a thirty-year-old letter written by the widow of Martin Luther King criticizing the civil rights record of attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Immediately, the decision by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell elicited the opposite effect to the intended one, ensuring that Warren’s message about Sessions’ possible performance as attorney general exploded like a bomb in the public consciousness.

McConnell resorted to a rarely used legislative rule whereby senators may be prohibited from criticizing the conduct of their colleagues – in this case, Warren against Sessions – and revoking the Massachusetts lawmaker’s right to speak, thus provoking a wave of criticism.

“Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” said McConnell in explaining his actions vis-a-vis Warren, but his words rebounded against him, spurring thousands of negative posts on the social networks under the hashtags #ShePersisted and #LetLizSpeak, which went viral.

Although Warren was prevented from continuing to read the letter from Mrs. King, four of her male colleagues were allowed to speak on the Senate floor, including Bernie Sanders and Tom Udall, which led activists to claim that McConnell’s decision had a sexist component.

Warren has established herself in recent years as one of the most powerful voices for shedding light on issues that have been silenced in US political discussion, and she is considered to be one of the country’s strongest defenders of social causes.

After she was prevented from speaking on the Senate floor, Warren decided to read Mrs. King’s letter on Facebook, where she received 9 million views in less than 24 hours.

In the letter, from 1986, Rev. King’s widow comes out against Sessions’ stances, saying that he would use the power of an office such as that of state prosecutor to hamper the right to vote for African Americans.