(The Hill) -– South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham received a warning early Sunday morning to follow the Senate’s decorum rules after he accused Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire of being “deceitful” and “dishonest” and vowed, “we’re going to call you out.”
“This gives phony and cynical a bad name,” Graham said when Hassan introduced an amendment.
Graham’s outburst at Hassan prompted Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy to sternly remind the South Carolina Republican 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, a Democrat who faces a competitive reelection race this November, for proposing an alternative to his amendment to strike a $16.4-cents-a-barrell tax on imported petroleum products and foreign oil refined in the United States.
“They wouldn’t let you do this in professional wrestling,” Graham fumed on the floor. “If you think people are this dumb, you’re going to be sadly mistaken.”
Graham warned Democrats on Friday the debate and vote-a-rama on the budget reconciliation would be “hell.”
On Sunday morning, Graham accused Hasson of fake theatrics after she 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, even if more than 50 senators voted for it.
“What she’s doing is trying to strike the provision that she just voted against but it requires 60 votes so she can 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 senators 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.
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.