Before Steve Mnuchin could even give his opening statement, the whole committee was up in arms after a Republican senator inappropriately joked his Democratic colleague needed anxiety medication.
“Sen. Wyden, I’ve got a Valium pill here that you might want to take for the second round,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) quipped. “Just a suggestion.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) had just finished a scathing rebuke of President-elect Donald Trump’s treasury pick. Quickly after the distasteful remark, the senators were at each other’s throats.
"Just another suggestion, we've got a lot of colleagues waiting, if you could be brief, it would be helpful," Wyden fired back.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) also reprimanded Roberts for his mocking offer.
"Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman. I hope that that comment about Valium doesn't set the tone for 2017 in this committee," Brown said. "I like Sen. Roberts, but I just can't quite believe that you would say that to a distinguished senator from Oregon."
Roberts justified that he made the comment to the United States president as well, which only riled the committee further.
Eventually the Republican senator apologized for incurring Brown’s “wrath” and advised “a little pinprick of humor might help this committee.” Perhaps so, but maybe not in such an insensitive and unprofessional manner.
Mnuchin awkwardly stayed silent throughout the heated exchange, but his goofy facial expressions really captured the moment’s uncomfortable intensity.
Banner image credit: Reuters