Senate decorum falls by the wayside to set the record straight on Josh Hawley

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS)
Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, was called out on the Senate floor by Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/TNS)

An extraordinary thing happened last week on the floor of the U.S. Senate. A Democratic senator from Hawaii, about as far as you can get from Missouri, dispensed with decorum and launched into a withering attack on Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. Floor speeches typically are reserved for the debate of issues and bills but rarely devolve into direct personal attacks. Hawley’s divisive antics over the past year, however, apparently have pushed Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz too far.

Schatz’s April 7 outburst did nothing to bridge the nation’s deepening political divide, but it served as an overdue response to Hawley’s double-sided morality standards and unbridled hypocrisy. Hawley, a freshman senator who not long ago questioned any Biden administration involvement when Russia prepared to invade Ukraine, now is ranting daily with complaints about the lack of Biden administration involvement in Ukraine.

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Hawley also is single-handedly delaying confirmation of Celeste Wallender, the National Security Council’s former Russia director, who is President Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. It’s because Wallender’s service is so badly needed at the Pentagon that Schatz felt compelled to speak out.

Hawley “is damaging the Department of Defense. We have senior DoD leaders, we have the Armed Services Committee coming to us and saying: ‘I don’t know what to tell him, I don’t know how to satisfy him, but he is blocking the staffing of the senior leadership at the Department of Defense,’” Schatz stated.

“And this comes from a guy who raised his fist in solidarity with the insurrectionists. And this comes from a guy who, before the Russian invasion, suggested that maybe it would be wise for (Ukrainian President Voldymyr) Zelenskyy to make a few concessions about Ukraine and their willingness to join NATO. This comes from a guy who just about a month ago voted against Ukraine aid. … Now he has the gall to say it’s going too slow.”

Hawaiians probably are new to the Hawley game. Missourians, of course, have long been schooled in Hawley’s chameleonic ways. Hawley responded that the administration is trying to “hide their failure in Ukraine,” which is interesting, considering that Hawley previously thought U.S. attention on Ukraine was misplaced — and considering that the U.S.-led rush of armaments to Ukraine has helped force Russia into a humiliating retreat.

When then-President Donald Trump tried in 2019 to extort President Zelenskyy, demanding political dirt against Biden in exchange for military aid, Hawley voted against Trump’s well-deserved impeachment.

“Spare me the new solidarity with the Ukrainians and the free world, because this man’s record is exactly the opposite,” Schatz said of Hawley.

If the Senate’s much-vaunted decorum has to fall by the wayside, we can think of no better cause than doing it in the name of correcting the record on Josh Hawley.

— From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS).