WASHINGTON Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday urged his inattentive colleagues, long referred to as members of "the world's most deliberative body," to "sit down and shut up!"
The Nevada Democrat's command drew a stunned silence in the normally august chamber where members routinely refer to each other as "the gentleman," "the gentle lady" and "my friend."
Reid roared after the presiding officer, freshman Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin, had difficulty getting the Senate's members to quiet down.
"The Senate is not in order. The Senate will be in order," Baldwin pleaded as many of the chamber's 100 senators kept talking during a roll-call vote on a judicial nominee.
"Madam President," Reid instructed Baldwin, "have everyone sit down and shut up! OK?"
Senators did quiet down, at least for a bit, but they were clearly anxious to move on as they neared the start of their month-long August recess.
The Senate, once recognized for high-minded debate, has become less deliberative and more earthy in recent years during a period of partisan gridlock and record-low approval ratings.
(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Peter Cooney)