Questioning had not even began at Trump Treasure pick Steve Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing before tempers boiled over among the Senate Finance Committee.
Democrats and Republicans got into a feud over a GOP lawmaker’s comment about giving Valium to the panel’s top Democrat.
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 19, 2017
Mnuchin, had not yet given his opening statement before the Senate Finance Committee when an offhand remark by Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts raised the ire of fellow committee members.
Roberts was being afforded permission to ask a handful of questions before jumping into another hearing. He began by taking a jab at Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, who had given a lengthy critique of Mnuchin’s experience.
“Senator Wyden, I’ve got a Valium pill here that you might want to take for a second round,” Roberts said. The comment did not go over very well with Democrats as Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown jumped into the fray, calling out the Kansas Republican for an inauspicious start to the committee’s work for the year.
Brown’s comments came as Wyden was accusing Roberts of wasting the committee’s time. “I just can’t quite believe that the Senator would say that,” said Brown. “I just hope that doesn’t set the tone for 2017.”
That began a chain of members from both sides of the aisle talking at each other, leaving the Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) struggling to control things.
Roberts said that he made the comment as a “little pinprick of humor,” sarcastically apologizing to Brown “if I have, you know, incurred your wrath, sir.”
Wyden again complained that Roberts was taking up valuable committee time with his comments, which got Roberts riled up. “Fine, Ron. I’m done!” Roberts replied to the Oregon Senator.