A U.S. Senate hearing on corporate greed and labor organizing took a testy turn on Tuesday as Sen. Bernie Sanders stepped in to stop Republican lawmaker and former professional mixed martial arts fighter Markwayne Mullin from physically fighting Teamsters president Sean O’Brien.
Mullin (R-Okla.)—a former undefeated mixed martial arts pro—and O’Brien appeared to be on a collision course during Tuesday’s Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing as the senator reignited a running feud with the labor leader.
It all began at a previous HELP hearing, where O’Brien called Mullin a “greedy CEO” and then took to social media to challenge him to a fight, saying: “You know where to find me. Anyplace, anytime, cowboy.” Mullin responded by challenging O’Brien to a charity MMA match.
After rehashing O’Brien’s “anyplace, anytime, cowboy” comment, Mullin said Tuesday: “Sir, this is a time, this is a place. You wanna run your mouth, we can be two consenting adults; we can finish it here.”
O’Brien retorted, “OK, that’s fine; perfect.”
Mullin: “You wanna do it now?”
O’Brien: “I’d love to do it right now.”
Mullin: “Well stand your butt up, then.”
O’Brien: “You stand your butt up, big guy.”
As Mullin proceeded to rise to his feet, Sanders (I-Vt.)—who chairs the HELP Committee—interceded.
“Hold it… Stop it. Sit down,” Sanders said forcefully while repeatedly hammering his gavel. “You’re a United States senator!”
“This is a hearing,” he added. “And God knows the American people have enough contempt for Congress, let’s not make it worse.”