It’s been a contentious week in the Senate as Republicans and Democrats debate President Donald Trump’s cabinet picks, but last night, things reached a new level when Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was formally silenced after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked an arcane rule to stop her from continuing with her critical remarks about U.S. Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions. The internet—and us, as women—are none too pleased.
Here’s what went down: During a debate over the Sessions’ nomination Tuesday night—the Senate is expected to vote to confirm Sessions on Wednesday—Warren held the floor and recited a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King, civil rights leader and wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., critiquing Sessions’ record on civil rights after he was nominated for a federal judgeship. In an excerpt of the letter, Warren quoted, “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge.”
As she was reading, however, McConnell objected to her statements, calling the Senate to order under what’s known as Rule XIX, which states that debating senators may not “directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.” After McConnell’s initial objection, Warren said she was “surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate,” and asked to continue, but a vote upheld the objection, forcing Warren to discontinue her remarks and take a seat.
McConnell later said of Warren, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Though Warren is now forbidden from partaking in the debate over Sessions’ nomination, the Massachusetts senator couldn’t really be silenced—she took to Facebook Live soon after being shut down on the Senate floor to continue reading Scott King’s letter. Her video has already received more than 5.5 million views.
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Others took to social media, too, to express their outrage over her silencing, and they’re using McConnell’s own words (and the hashtag #ShePersisted, along with #LetLizTalk) against him as a rallying cry:
Let's slow the beat down:
Told an elected woman
Reading Corretta Scott King
To shut up
And take a seat.#ShePersisted
— Tom Watson (@tomwatson) February 8, 2017
"Nevertheless, she persisted." The history of the women's movement in three words. We have more work to do. #ShePersists
— Kelli (@AttemptingZen) February 8, 2017
"Nevertheless, she persisted": The GOP just gave millions of women their rallying cry against it.
— Meghan O'Rourke (@meghanor) February 8, 2017
"Nevertheless, she persisted." Mitch McConnell just gave Elizabeth Warren the title of her autobiography, if not a line of T-shirts.
— David Simon (@AoDespair) February 8, 2017
“[Warren] was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” said @SenateMajLdr, providing a history of feminism.
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) February 8, 2017
— T. Fisher King (@T_FisherKing) February 8, 2017
"Nevertheless she persisted" is the contemptible lament of every old white man who has tried and failed to silence an indomitable woman.
— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) February 8, 2017
"NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED." — every woman's epitaph now
— Emily Mitchell (@emilyreads) February 8, 2017
Warren 2020: Nevertheless, she persisted
— Dave Stroup (@DaveStroup) February 8, 2017
So go on and join the conversation with Elizabeth Warren and #ShePersisted on Twitter now.
Now take a look at another female warrior, UFC fighter Michelle Waterson: