Senators go to the Senate floor and make speeches about issues near and dear to their constituents all day long — but whether anyone is actually listening is another matter.
Making speeches on the Senate floor gets the words into the official record, but often they are made to a near-empty chamber so it is never quite clear whether the words are heard.
That can be frustrating for politicians used to getting plenty of attention.
Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski got fed up when she was speaking about the budget fight and how a government shutdown would hurt port and airport operations. As she talked, she saw the senator who was presiding over the chamber, another Democrat, apparently checking her BlackBerry.
“I’m telling you, Madam President, this is not going to be good. But you know what’s not really good? Not only the consequences but the way we’re functioning here. Madam President, Hello? Madam President? I don’t know if my speech is not that attention-getting but could I have your attention?” Mikulski said.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand responded dutifully: “The senator has consumed ten minutes.”