Republican senator sparks laughter as he tells witness: ‘I don’t want reality!’

Markwayne Mullin again makes headlines for his conduct in a committee hearing

Abe Asher
Friday 02 June 2023 00:22 BST
Sen Markwayne Mullin says 'I don't want reality' at Senate hearing

Senator Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma sparked a round of laughter in the a Senate hearing room after misspeaking and snapping “I don’t want reality!” at a witness.

Mr Mullin’s comment came during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) hearing on race and education where he was aggressively questioning a panel of witnesses about whether it’s better to teach the book Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race or the lyrics of the song “Jesus Loves Me.”

After Mr Mullin became irritated with a response given by Cheryl Morman, president of the Virginia Alliance for Family Child Care Associations, and cut her off, Sen Bernie Sanders, the committee chair, asked Mr Mullin to allow her to answer the question he had posed.

One of the witnesses started saying: “The reality is ...” at which point Mr Mullin cut her off.

“No, I don’t want reality, I’m asking the question, which one is better?” Mr Mullin said. “That’s exactly what it is.”

Spectators in the hearing room errupted with laughter as Mr Mullin acknowledged that he “misspoke” and then continued with his questioning.

The HELP committee was convened for a hearing called “Solving the Child Care Crisis: Meeting the Needs of Working Families and Child Care Workers.” When it was Mr Mullin’s turn to question the panel of witnesses, he pulled out a copy Our Skin — a book meant to teach young children about the history and function of race — and announced that he would read a passage from it.

“‘A long time ago, way before you were born, a group of white people made up an idea called race,” Mr Mullin said. “They sorted people by skin colour and said that white people were better, smarter, prettier, and they deserved more than everybody else.”

Mr Mullin later said he disagreed with the book “one thousand percent” and suggested it would prejudice children against white people. Mr Mullin, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation, said schools should instead teach the song “Jesus Loves Me,” a Christian hymn written before the onset of the Civil War that would likely violate the prohibition against religious activity in many public school districts.

Mr Mullin has frequently made headlines in the last several months for his conduct on the HELP committee, where he’s clashed with figures ranging from Mr Sanders to Teamsters president Sean O’Brien.

Mr Sanders has significantly raised the profile of the committee since he took over as chair at the beginning of the current Congress, bringing a range of activists, labour leaders, and major CEOs like Starbucks’ Howard Schultz to Washington to testify in high-profile hearings.

Mr Mullin, a multimillionaire business owner who was elevated to the Seante in a special election last year, has chafed in past hearings at Mr Sanders’ treatment of major corporate executives like Mr Schutlz.

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