Just before dinner this evening, the mood in the Senate chamber appeared to be split between senators who are itching to get out of their seats — like Republican Sen. Joni Ernst who physically stood up at one point to stretch her legs — and those still taking careful notes, shuffling through papers and looking ahead engaged – like Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander, Cory Gardner and Lisa Murkowski, among others.
Sen. John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, was seen moving side to side looking for a comfortable position. Sen. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, had his hands intertwined behind his head stretching his neck. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, fidgeted with his watch and continued to look down at least four times in just a short period, while kicking his legs straight out ahead of him.
Side conversations appear to be growing from fleeting whispers to quiet conversations, some leading to laughs. Ernst and Sen. Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, who are sitting diagonally from each other, were seen chatting and Ernst showed him something on her notebook. Sens. Rick Scott and Rob Portman continued to talk back and forth multiple times. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, laughed at something Sen. John Barasso, a Republican from Wyoming, whispered in his ear, and Barasso also spent time chatting with Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, his neighbor on the other side.
Sen. David Perdue, a Republican from Georgia, paused from whispering to Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, to take a piece of what looked like a pack of green spearmint gum off of Republican Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy’s desk. Perdue shoved one piece of gum in his mouth and placed the rest of it back.
After Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a 30-minute recess for dinner, most senators ran for the door, like bored students on the last day of school. Ernst let out a large “oh my gosh” as she popped up out of her seat looking over in Sullivan’s direction. Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, also let out a deep breath as he walked alone toward the exit.
But Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, did not rush out and remained on the floor. The two key GOP senators were seen huddling with Sen. John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, for several minutes.
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