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No phones. No coffee. No talking. How senators are coping with long days of impeachment arguments

Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

He, like several other senators, have taken to slowly strolling around the back of the chamber. "I'm missing my workouts," he said.

As the hours wear on each day, those walks by Kennedy and others have become more frequent. And senators have taken longer breaks -- going to the cloakroom for that cell phone check or a snack -- but for the most part, senators have remained in the chamber.

One exception so far was Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who left the Capitol Wednesday night an hour before the arguments ended because she was not feeling well, her spokesman said. She was back for the start of arguments Thursday.

The Senate -- an institution that tends to boast of its stodginess -- never really entered the 21st century. Some of the desks are still the mid-19th century originals. Spittoons are stored underneath the desks of the top Republican and Democrats leaders (although there is no sign they've been used in decades).

Cellphones and other electronics have never been allowed on the Senate floor. Typically, that rule is flagrantly violated but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer have instituted a crackdown for the trial.

New cubbies -- just like in school -- were installed outside the chamber and in the cloakrooms to store Apple cellphones -- or a real apple, if you're Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

And in another throwback to middle school, senators and staff passed occasional notes. Whether they contained thoughts of impeachment or other musings might be lost to Senate history. But as Wednesday's arguments wore on, a piece of paper circulated urgently between a senior Republican staffer, a handful of Republican and Democratic senators and the president's lawyers.

 

Finally, the note landed on the desk of the Senate's presiding officer, in this case the chief justice of the United States, for a final ruling:

Is 6:30 p.m., the note asked in scrawling black Sharpie, the appropriate time to break for dinner?

(Los Angeles Times staff writers Sarah D. Wire, Noah Bierman and Chris Megerian contributed to this report.)

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