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During a Senate Appropriations Committee markup, Leahy regaled the audience with a tale from his early days on the committee.

He said the a chairman always had his water brought in separately by an aide. One day, Leahy found himself choking.

"I took a sip out of his glass," Leahy recalled. "It wasn't water."

Leahy joked that the current chairwoman, Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiDems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee Robert Mueller's forgotten surveillance crime spree Clinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctions MORE (D-Md.), probably doesn't drink vodka on the job, even though she is proud of her Polish roots.

"In Polish, the word for water is 'woda' and the word for vodka is 'wodka,'" Mikulski said. "Only one 'k' separates them ... that's why I drink mine out of a clear bottle to preserve my reputation."