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Watch: Boxer Sets Precedent for Dems To Ask Questions from Dais
June 30, 2011

Posted by Katie Brown 

Watch: Boxer Sets Precedent for Dems To Ask Questions from Dais

Chairman Boxer invites Senator Mikulski to sit at the dais at an EPW hearing, "An Examination of the Impacts of Global Warming on the Chesapeake Bay" on September 26, 2007


Senator Boxer. So Senator, you wanted to make a comment?

Senator Inhofe. I did want to make one comment.  There is no one I love more than Senator Mikulski.  We are very, very close.  We actually have been together on a lot of our Thursday afternoon meetings.  But I have to object to have the Senator sit at the dais, because we have never done that in the history of this Committee.  I know this came up a couple of times when I was Chairman of the Committee, and I hope you understand that.

Senator Mikulski. Madam Chair, may I respond?

Senator Boxer. Yes.

Senator Mikulski. Madam Chair, you will hear in my testimony that the subcommittee that I have the proud honor to Chair, Commerce, Justice and Science, funds 85 percent of the science that is done on global warming.  I ask to sit at the dais in two capacities.  Number one as the Senator from Maryland, because this is a hearing, and I would of course be happy to be joined by my colleague.  I am delighted that our colleague from the House, Congressman Gilchrest is here.  We do function as Team Maryland on the issues related to the State.

The second reason that I wanted to sit at the dais, though, is that I do fund 85 percent of the science that this Committee relies upon, all that information that Senator Cardin has conveyed up there and that Senator Inhofe conveys comes from our committee.  I might add, the committee is the Mikulski-Shelby Committee.  We really do function on a keen bipartisan basis.

I will yield to the Senator's objection, but I will ask as a courtesy since 85 percent of what we fund and you rely on, I will assume my seat behind you, as I am behind you 100 percent, and I will function as a staff member to the Committee.

Senator Inhofe. Let me respond.  First of all, if the Chairman would agree, this would be a one time only event, since it hasn't happened before.  I would have no objection.  I would just make the exception for this meeting.  Would you agree?

Senator Boxer. Senator, I am not going to agree to that.  I am the Chairman of this Committee.  I have spoken with you.  You knew this was coming.  I asked if Senator Mikulski could join us.  You said that it is not allowed.  I went back to the Parliamentarian.  There is absolutely no rule against this, and many committees do this.  I can't tell you from the day one whether this Committee has ever done it, and I don't think you can either.

Indeed, it is permissible.  It seems to me that we may not agree on this issue.  Lord knows, we don't.  We agree on others.  But we should have a sense of comity here.  This is a colleague who would bend over backwards for you if you ever asked her for anything.  I am going to ask unanimous consent that we allow Senator Mikulski to join us today.

Senator Inhofe. I object.  Let me reserve the right to object.

What you say is partially right, but it is unprecedented in this Committee.  There is not a time, and we have done some research to see if that has ever happened before.  It hasn't happened before.  We tried it when I was Chairman of the Committee.  It was objected to.  But I am willing to make the exception for you, Senator Mikulski, and I hope that you will be seated up here and will accept the invitation.

Senator Mikulski. Madam Chair, if I might, as again a personal privilege.  We need to focus on the issue of global warming and the impact on the Bay.  We have two outstanding Governors here.  I want the focus of the hearing to be on the Chesapeake Bay and global warming, and not on myself.

I yield to the ruling of the Chair.

Senator Boxer. Well, the ruling of the Chair, if I had the chance to rule, would be that you would be joining us.  We have had objection, and I just might say, let's just __

Senator Inhofe. I am trying to __

Senator Boxer. I understand you are trying to move on, and I appreciate it, but I think it is important to take a moment here, and I will do that.  This is an outrage.  This is my friend.

Senator Inhofe. It is an outrage to invite __

Senator Boxer. If I might conclude, please.  It is an outrage to object to a sincere colleague who wants to work with us on a bipartisan basis that is so close to her heart.  I am offended.  It doesn't diminish my wanting to work with you in the future.  I mean, Senator Inhofe was going to go to the floor and object to the committee's meeting today if this happened.  And he has to leave us and I would not do something behind his back, so that is why we are having __

Senator Inhofe. And that is why I am inviting Senator Mikulski to sit up here on the dais and participate.  We will make an exception if you would agree that this is an exception we are making for Senator Mikulski.

Senator Cardin. Will the Senator yield?

Senator Inhofe. I don't see a problem with that.

Senator Cardin. Would the Senator yield for a moment?

Senator Inhofe. Yes.

Senator Cardin. I appreciate your concern that we stick to the rules of the House, but we have a problem in getting Senators to attend hearings.  It seems to me that it is helpful if we could have the benefit of another Senator in questioning the really distinguished panel that we have here.  I would just urge you ÿFE I understand that you have the right to object and I understand your concern.  I agree with Senator Mikulski, today's hearing is so important, just so important, the subject that we are dealing with.  It is not about one Senator.  It is about the issue of the Chesapeake Bay and the relationship of global warming and the relationship to the other issues that you raised.  I just think it would be so helpful for this Committee to have the expertise of Senator Mikulski.

Senator Inhofe. And I agree, Senator Cardin.  I agree with everything you just said.  So why don't you sit up here and we will make that exception for today.  I would be delighted to do it.

Senator Boxer. Okay, we will make the exception today, and I am not stating that this will be the only time I will ask for that, but please join us.

Senator Inhofe. Thank you.

Senator Mikulski. Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

Senator Inhofe. Thank you, Senator Mikulski.

Senator Boxer. Thank you, Senator.

Senator Mikulski. I also thank you, then, for the extension of that courtesy.

Senator Boxer. All right. Now, I think we are ready to get started now.

Chairman Boxer invites Senator Landrieu to sit at the dais at an EPW hearing entitled, "New Orleans Hurricane and Flood Protection and Coastal Louisiana Restoration: Status and Progress" on June 16, 2009
Senator Landrieu. [...] I pledge to work with you and your Committee every step of the way in a bipartisan manner to accomplish this.

Again, I thank you very, very much and look forward to the testimony and I will be staying to hear the specifics on the proposal Pump to the River today.

Senator Boxer.  Please join us right up here.

At this time, we call to the table Brigadier General Michael Walsh, Commander, Division Engineer, Mississippi Valley Division, U.S. Army Corps.  Welcome, Commander.  I should say General.  Welcome, General, and please read your statement or place it in the record and summarize it and then we will ask questions.


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