Tensions were running high on Capitol Hill on Tuesday after a U.S. senator challenged the president of the Teamsters union to a fight in the middle of a committee hearing.
Thankfully, the two men did not come to blows after an incredulous Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders stepped in and told them to settle down.
The incident occurred during the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, when Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma read aloud a less-than-flattering post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the Teamsters union president, Sean O’Brien, wrote about him in June.
In the post, O’Brien called Mullin a “greedy CEO who pretends like he’s self made” as well as a “clown & fraud.”
“Quit the tough guy act in these senate hearings. You know where to find me. Anyplace, Anytime cowboy,” O’Brien wrote.
The post included the hashtag “LittleManSyndrome” and a photo of Mullin standing on an elevated platform behind a lectern during a debate.
Mullin, a former MMA fighter, hit back on X to challenge O’Brien to a charity fight.
“An attention-seeking union Teamster boss is trying to be punchy after our Senate hearing. Okay, I accept your challenge. MMA fight for charity of our choice. Sept 30th in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’ll give you 3 days to accept,” Mullins wrote at the time.
It seems the two men were not able to quash their online beef and it spilled over into Tuesday’s committee hearing. Mullin read aloud O’Brien’s original post and placed particular emphasis on saying “Anyplace, Anytime cowboy” — after which he remarked, “Sir, this is a time, this is a place.”
“You want to run your mouth? We can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here,” Mullin said.
“OK, that’s fine. Perfect,” O’Brien replied.
“You want to do it now?” Mullin asked.
“I’d love to do it right now,” O’Brien said.
“Well stand your butt up then,” Mullin said.
“You stand your butt up,” O’Brien said. “Big guy.”
Mullin then stood up, causing Sanders, chairman of the committee, to intervene.
“Hold on. Stop it!” Sanders yelled. “No, no, sit down!”
“No, no, you’re a United States senator. Sit down,” Sanders said, motioning for Mullin to take his seat.
Speaking over cross-talk from both Mullin and O’Brien, Sanders banged his gavel and said: “This is a hearing. God knows the American people have enough contempt for Congress, let’s not make it worse.”
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Sanders then gave the floor to Mullin, who launched back into targeting O’Brien.
“I did challenge you,” Mullin said, appearing to refer to his offer of a charity fight against O’Brien. “And you went quiet.”
“No, I didn’t go quiet,” O’Brien responded. “You challenged me to a cage match, acting like a 12-year-old schoolyard bully.”
“Excuse me. No! Hold it,” Sanders interjected again.
“You have questions on any economic issues, go for it. We’re not here to talk about physical abuse,” Sanders said.
Later on in the hearing, Mullin challenged O’Brien again to a charity fight in April — an offer that O’Brien rejected.
“It should never come to that,” O’Brien told Reuters. “We’re not 12 years old anymore…. We have fights we have to take on. My cage fight is with corporate America and that’s the way it is going to stay.”
The union president said he is willing to sit down with Mullin over coffee or a beer.
“In Oklahoma, if you run your mouth, you get called out. Period,” Mullin wrote on social media after the hearing.
In an, Mullin called O’Brien a “thug” and “mob boss.”
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