For Thirsty Senators in Impeachment Trial, It’s Milk, Water or Nothing
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate imposes an ascetic existence on its members during an impeachment trial, but it does afford them one peculiar indulgence: milk.
Senators considering whether to remove President Donald Trump from office can drink either milk or water while in the chamber during the trial -- and nothing else, not even coffee. According to Senator Bill Cassidy, a physician and member of the Republican leadership, the little-known dairy exception was made decades ago to soothe lawmakers’ peptic ulcers.
“In the 50s, there was no medicine for ulcers but people would drink milk,” Cassidy says. “So the senators were allowed to drink milk because they had ulcers.”
The strict requirements on senators during the trial -- they must be present, silent and without electronic devices -- has put a spotlight on how they’re able to sustain themselves for hours on end on the Senate floor.
Republican Ted Cruz appeared to be the first to drink milk on the Senate floor late Tuesday as the chamber debated the trial rules, one of his aides said. Senators have to bring their own milk to the cloakroom, the aide added.
Since then, reporters have also spotted Senators Tom Cotton and Richard Burr sipping on glasses of milk.
It’s unclear whether Cassidy’s explanation is true or lore. And if it’s true, modern medicine suggests it’s a misguided allowance: the calcium in milk actually causes the stomach to produce more acid, agitating an ulcer.
The Washington Post noted that while there isn’t a rule that explicitly allows milk, there also isn’t one that blocks it. The clearest articulation of the allowance is hidden deep within “Riddick’s Senate Procedures,” the Senate’s voluminous rulebook: “Senate rules do not prohibit a Senator from sipping milk during his speech.”
According to Senate records, the position on milk dates back to 1966, when Senator Everett Dirksen asked the presiding officer if it would be okay for a page to bring him a glass of milk. The officer answered there was no rule prohibiting him from requesting a glass of milk.
There’s one dietary luxury available to senators sitting through as many as 48 hours of argument: a bowl of candy. But by a mid-afternoon recess on Wednesday, an emergency loomed.
“The candy desk is running low. We need replenishments,” Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, reported.
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