At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Senator Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, a Republican, got into a heated exchange with the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, ultimately challenging him to a physical altercation.
During a session of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, a clash took place regarding labor unions. Sean O’Brien, the leader of a prominent and impactful union in the country, was present as a witness.
During Mullin’s opportunity to ask the witnesses questions, he brought up a previous hearing from March where he and O’Brien had a heated discussion about Mullin’s experience as a business owner and O’Brien’s salary as the head of the union.
read one of O’Brien’s posts aloud, in which he called Mullin a “greedy CEO,” a “clown” and a “fraud.”
“I am available to meet at any time and any location, cowboy,” Mullin stated firmly, gesturing to the floor between the dais and the witness table. “This is both a time and a place.” He continued, “If you wish to speak freely, we can do so as two mature adults. We can resolve this matter right here.”
O’Brien responded by saying, “That’s alright. Excellent.”
“Are you ready to do it now?” Mullin inquired.
O’Brien responded, “I would like to do it immediately.”
Mullin suggested, “Stand up!”
“Stand up straight.”
Afterwards, Mullin stood up. Senator Bernie Sanders, who was leading the committee, stepped in at that moment.
“Please cease this behavior. As a senator of the United States, Sanders reminded O’Brien that Mullin should not be referred to as a “clown”. This is a formal meeting and the public already holds Congress in low regard. Let us not exacerbate the situation.”
Shortly after a physical altercation between lawmakers occurred in another part of Capitol Hill, a surreal moment took place. Republican Representative Tim Burchett shared that during a meeting of House Republicans, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was involved.
Burchett was motivated to chase after him, prompting McCarthy to deny deliberately striking him.
According to his Senate website, Mullin is a retired Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter who never lost a match, with a professional record of 5 wins and 0 losses. He has also been recognized for his achievements in wrestling and has been inducted into the Oklahoma Wrestling Hall of Fame.
The Republican senator and labor leader continued to engage in a heated argument during the final minutes of Mullin’s questioning. Although they initially agreed to meet for coffee, the situation quickly deteriorated. The exchange concluded with Sanders forcefully hitting his gavel as the two men resorted to calling each other names such as “embarrassment” and “thug.”
Following the hearing, Mullin informed journalists that the confrontation was not a personal matter and that he does not hold any resentment towards it. “He simply presented me with a challenge and I willingly accepted it,” Mullin stated.
Reporting was provided by Alan He and Jack Turman.