Without phones and coffee: 7 facts about the work of senators during a meeting on impeachment - ForumDaily
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Without phones and coffee: 7 facts about the work of senators during a meeting on impeachment

The first two days of the Senate impeachment trial have passed. Senators will listen to the arguments of the parties - for three days each - after which they will be able to ask questions and vote: to continue the consideration or end it and render a verdict on the guilt or innocence of US President Donald Trump.

Фото: Depositphotos

In addition to long hours, the work of senators is complicated by several rules and circumstances that require mostly elderly people to demonstrate simply phenomenal endurance.

Obligatory presence

According to the Constitution, senators must fulfill their duties regarding impeachment with “due diligence”, which in fact means being present during the entire trial. For several senators, this means that they cannot participate in meetings with voters during one of the most important phases of the election race, shortly before the first party elections (coke and primaries) in Iowa and New Hampshire, where an unexpected leader can be determined, as happened with Barack Obama in 2008.

These are Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar. They get out as best they can. Instead of Sanders, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is campaigning in Iowa at this time, and in New Hampshire, two guys named Ben and Jerry are treating him to ice cream on his behalf.

Actress Ashley Judd and the Castro brothers are urging Iowans to vote for Elizabeth Warren—not Raul and Fidel, of course—but the former head of the Housing Department, Julián, and Congressman Jokim from Texas.

And the daughter of Amy Klobuchar took up the maintenance of her page on Twitter.

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Undoubtedly, senators and presidential candidates are worried about how Waugh Buttigieg is captivating voters in their absence. But they can reassure themselves that in US history, as many as 16 senators have become presidents.

Ban on the use of electronic devices

Electronic devices are not allowed to be used in the Senate chamber - neither by senators in the chamber itself, nor by representatives of the media and the public on the balcony. When my colleague and I were there on the first day of the impeachment trial, we observed what the senators were doing while listening to the representatives of the parties speak.

Former presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were writing something the entire time we were there. Amy Klobuchar looked the most preoccupied: she was writing something down, sorting through papers, reading. Most simply sat and watched the speakers. LA Times journalists noticed how Elizabeth Warren concentratedly drew a complex pattern of dots, circles and lines. The room that looks large on TV is actually smaller. Every senator is in full view, you can’t hide behind a column.

You can’t talk, but you can move

Senators cannot communicate with each other during debates. Even when it comes time to put the issue to the parties' representatives—the House impeachment managers and Trump's legal team—they must do so in writing. Chief Justice John Roberts will read them and give each side an opportunity to respond.

However, the Senators can move, although not much. We saw a slight movement along the wall opposite us. Other journalists - senators - stood next to their chairs or propped up the wall in not the most comfortable positions. “They’re probably stretching themselves,” the journalists of the publication, which specializes in covering the work of Congress, competently suggested.

But senators lack physical activity. Senator Elizabeth Warren complained in an interview that she was not walking her daily 11 kilometers. “Very behind schedule,” she said.

You can't drink coffee, but you can drink water and milk

It turns out, according to the rules of the Senate, coffee and any other drinks, except water and milk, should not be brought into the hearing room. The right to milk, however, is enshrined in the “Riddick Senate Procedure: Precedents and Rules,” which states that “the Senate cannot prohibit the senator from drinking milk during his speech.”

It's cool in the room

When we got to a balcony with a colleague, I was glad that I was in a warm sweater. The room is cool. Senator Kamala Harris was wearing a jacket upstairs. Other journalists noticed senators covering their feet with blankets.

The struggle with sleep is not always victorious

Despite the chill, many senators are finding it difficult to stay cheerful. We watched as a wave of yawns went from Bernie Sanders through Ben Cardin to Mark Warner. Lindsey Graham closed his eyes and kept them closed for several minutes.

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Roll Call reporters saw Senator Mark Warner fall asleep 40 minutes after the debate began. His tablemate Democrat Edward Markey looked at him, but decided not to wake him. Warner woke up, got better and continued to listen to Adam Schiff's arguments about why Donald Trump should be deprived of his presidency.

Journalists do not catch senators in the meeting room

The meeting from the Senate chamber is broadcast live on the Senate website, the C-SPAN television channel, and the video is transferred to media organizations that subscribe to this service. It’s interesting to be in the hall, but serious lighting cannot be done from there without the right to bring in electronic devices. In reality, the press in the Capitol building operates in three places. Firstly, in the so-called Radio and Television Gallery - a room specially equipped for press work, divided into very small work areas. Those who work there are mainly those who constantly cover the work of Congress.

Secondly, you can sit with your laptop in the room nearby - in the press conference room - and watch the debate on TV. A lot of foreign press gathered there. And those who want to hunt for exclusives can stand in a specially designated press area - separately for the printed press and for television - next to the exit from the hall. In the few minutes we were there, Democrat Kristen Gillibrand, who dropped out of the race last year, and Mitt Romney, who lost the presidential election to Barack Obama, ran past. But they did not talk to the press.

The original column is published on the website. Ukrainian service "Voices of America".

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