There are few images more haunting than that of a fully grown adult indulging in a glass of milk. The opaqueness of the liquid, the associations with infancy, the fact that it came from a cow’s engorged mammary gland—all of these factors contribute to the vaguely upsetting quality of milk presented in any context outside of daycare. The more serious and somber the venue, the more distressing the presence of milk. It’s only natural, then, that as a historic impeachment trial goes forth in the Senate, the nation would be captivated by a bizarre milk- or water-only rule and the dairy-guzzling senators who chose the former.
Awareness of the potential milk situation first came about when reporter Matt Laslo pointed out the little-known allowance on Twitter.
And indeed, in Riddick’s Senate Procedure, a guide that collates current Senate practices, one will find the following section:
Milk While Speaking:
Senate rules do not prohibit a Senator from sipping milk during his speech.
Sen. Bill Cassidy told CNN that the milk option dates back to the 50s, when “there was no medicine for peptic ulcer disease so people would drink milk and so the senators were allowed to drink milk because they had ulcer.” Although the actual formalizing of senatorial milk wasn’t until 1966, when a senator asked whether it would violate the rules to request a glass of milk from a Senate page (it would not).
Based on the wording of the official entry and the fact that it only occurred after someone asked whether milk was prohibited, it would seem that any thirsty senator might potentially request any variety of beverages. And yet, for the senators of this 116th United States Congress, water and milk appear to be plenty.
But who are these senators requesting glasses of milk as they perform their sacred constitutional duty? No electronic devices are allowed on the Senate floor for the duration of the trial, so we’re forced to rely on word of mouth. But thanks to a number of dairy-spotting reporters, we can compile a decently complete list of which of our nation’s esteemed lawmakers chose to quietly listen to the various crimes and misdeeds of our current president over the opaque, teat-expressed fluid.
Tom Cotton, Drinker of Milk
The first senator to brave the dairy divide was Republican Tom Cotton, which is perhaps unsurprising considering the fact that Cotton proudly partakes in “birthday cake” and ice cream on a near-daily basis. Cotton’s office confirmed in an email to Slate that the Senator was drinking skim milk (a fact that is sure to enrage dairy enthusiasts) and that he “only drinks milk with chocolate, cookies, or cake.” According to all available data, this last point appears to check out.
When asked how much milk Cotton has consumed over the course of the impeachment trial thus far, his office claimed to have “no idea.” Is this because the amount of dairy in Tom Cotton’s system is too great for any mere human to quantify? It’s impossible to be sure.
Elizabeth Warren, Drinker of Yogurt and Milk
In a particularly bold move for a presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren also seems to be using this time to slam dairy. The first report of a milk-related beverage came from CNN’s MJ Lee, who said that Warren drank “yogurt milk” on Tuesday evening. We here at Slate hesitate to classify yogurt as milk, but Warren removed all doubt regarding her dedication to milk, specifically, late Thursday afternoon.
You hear that, Iowa?
Despite repeated emails, Warren’s office has so far refused to answer our questions regarding the specifics of her various milk and milk-like beverages. While everyone is of course entitled to privacy regarding personal dairy consumption, the American people will always value transparency above all else, and we urge the senator to reconsider.
Ted Cruz, Late-Night Drinker of Milk
Imagine Ted Cruz sitting silently at a desk, only ever moving as much as is needed to bring the glass to his lips, so that he might fill his mouth with milk. Tiny white droplets mingle with the hairs in his beard, a little treat for later.
Now imagine Ted Cruz doing this at midnight. Just devastating.
Like Warren, Cruz’s office has yet to provide Slate with the specifics of Cruz’s milk consumption. In this case, that’s probably for the best.
Richard Burr, Drinker of Milk
The details of Richard Burr’s dairy intake are slim, but thanks to CNN reporter Clare Foran, who witnessed Burr “down half a glass of milk” Thursday afternoon, we know that there is at least some lactose in his system. When pressed for details, Burr’s communications director told Slate she “was not in the chamber at the time, so unfortunately I do not have those details for you.”
If you have any information at all about the variety and quantity of Senator Burr’s preferred milks, please do let us know.
Tammy Baldwin, Holder of Milk
Curiously and unlike the milk-possessing senators before her, Tammy Baldwin does not seem to have been spotted actually consuming the opaque fluid.
This is despite the multiple reporters who were able to note her proximity to the beverage. When pressed for more information, rather than answer our questions, Baldwin’s office provided the following canned statement:
Senator Baldwin picked up skim milk at the Senate Chef and took it to the floor today… she works for America’s Dairyland and is a Cheesehead after all, so she is a big fan of dairy and would bring cheescurds to the floor if she could.
It certainly appears that political opportunism, rather than a passion for dairy, drove to Baldwin to request a tall glass of the white stuff (milk). Our forefathers certainly weep.
Joe Manchin, Gulper of Milk
As with Burr, little is known about the glass of milk Joe Manchin consumed Thursday afternoon. We can, however, assume that Manchin thoroughly enjoyed his liquid afternoon treat, as both he and Burr are alleged to have downed the drink in a mere two gulps.
And once again, as with Burr, Manchin’s office has yet to respond to our request details about the Senator’s milk habits. We will update this post if and when Manchin decides to be straightforward with the American people.
In the meantime, do you work in the Senate? Have you procured milk for a United States senator? Did you watch them drink it? We’d love to hear from you.