Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on

Chaplain Barry Black opened the Senate on Wednesday with a simple request: Let them be civil.

“Help them remember that patriots reside on both sides of the aisle, that words have consequences and that how something is said can be as important as what is said,” Black said.

The opening prayer, offered every day the Senate is in session, comes as President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE’s impeachment trial is testing the physical and mental endurance of senators, who are required to be in the chamber throughout the proceeding. 

Under decorum guidelines circulated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Push for national popular vote movement gets boost from conservatives To avoid November catastrophe, Democrats have to KO Sanders MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Democratic mega-donor reaching out to Pelosi, Schumer in bid to stop Sanders: report Trump administration freezes funding for study of hurricane barriers: report MORE (D-N.Y.), senators are expected to be in their seats at all times, are not supposed to talk to neighboring senators and can’t bring devices such as cellphones or tablets on the floor. Additionally, any reading materials are supposed to be related to impeachment.

It’s a stark contrast to the normal clubby atmosphere of the Senate floor, where senators circulate among their colleagues and float off and on the floor during a vote series.

Senators are already showing signs of restlessness and rule-breaking roughly 48 hours into the trial. 

Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSteyer calls for Senate term limits to pass gun control legislation Cruz targets California governor over housing 'prescriptions' This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE (R-Texas), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Tim Scott: Sanders would be toughest challenger for Trump House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE (R-S.C.) and Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills Democrats block two Senate abortion bills MORE (R-Neb.), and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate Congress eyes killing controversial surveillance program Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE (R-S.C.), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Senators to meet with Zelensky after impeachment trial GOP senators defend Sondland, Vindman ousters: They weren't 'loyal' MORE (R-Wyo.) and John CornynJohn CornynCongress eyes killing controversial surveillance program Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates MORE (R-Texas) were spotted chatting intermittently from their seats on the Senate floor during the trial.

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Reporters have also been keeping a close eye on senators who might be drifting off during the hours on the Senate floor and appeared to spot Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischGOP lawmaker makes unannounced trip to northeastern Syria Lawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban Senators condemn UN 'blacklisting' of US companies in Israeli settlements MORE (R-Idaho) sleeping on Tuesday, while an NBC News reporter noted that Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeLobbying World GOP chairman after Africa trip: US military drawdown would have 'real and lasting negative consequences' Overnight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' MORE (R-Okla.) on Wednesday appeared to briefly fall asleep before being nudged by Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungLobbying World Republican Senate campaign arm hauled in over million in January The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (R-Ind.), who sits next to him on the floor.

Senators in both parties were seen standing near their chairs or in some cases pacing the outer edge of the floor as the impeachment trial dragged on. Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database On The Money: Coronavirus complicates Fed decision on rates | Schumer wants .5B in emergency virus funding | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on military money for wall Hillicon Valley: Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments | Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing | MORE (D-Ore.) stretched his arms and yawned, while Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSchumer requesting .5 billion in emergency funding on coronavirus Republicans give Barr vote of confidence Trump creates new headaches for GOP with top intelligence pick MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator, was spotted resting his face in his hands and scrunching his eyes in an attempt to wake up.

“I’m not somebody who is very good at sitting in one place ... for extended periods of time, so it takes a little bit more focus and discipline,” Thune said. “You just got to grind through it.”

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats introduce bill to reverse Trump's shift of military money toward wall Overnight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development MORE (Ill.), his Democratic counterpart, noted that “in the last hour or two, I was up and standing, just to move around a little bit and keep my attention focused on what we were doing.”

Senators are being provided a constant supply of snacks to help them try to power through the unusually long session days.

Though Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.) told reporters that the Senate candy drawer was “running low,” mounds of snacks could be seen in both the Democratic and Republican cloakrooms. Thune noted he had been munching on Nerds and Swedish Fish; Durbin referred to the bounty in the Democratic room as a “Costco dump.”

On the floor, senators are allowed to have only water or milk, though aides noted that if a senator wanted to drink the latter, they had to bring their own.

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonAsian caucus urges fellow lawmakers not to 'perpetuate racist stereotypes' amid coronavirus fears Overnight Defense: More closures possible at US bases in Europe as coronavirus spreads | Pompeo says Afghan 'reduction in violence is working' | Man accused of trying to blow up vehicle at Pentagon Top general: More closures at US bases in Europe possible as coronavirus spreads MORE (R-Ark.) caused a frenzy among reporters when he was spotted drinking milk on the Senate floor; an aide said Cruz also has had a glass during the impeachment trial.

"There's only two drinks allowed on the Senate floor: milk and water. That must come from a Wisconsin senator, right?" Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonCongress eyes killing controversial surveillance program Whistleblower retaliation: Stop confusing unlawful attacks with politics Congress looks to strengthen hand in State Department following impeachment MORE (R-Wis.) told reporters before noting that he was sticking to water.

In addition to tight restrictions on the Senate floor, dramatic restrictions on press access have also limited a senator’s ability to talk to reporters, who must remain in pens when on the second floor of the Capitol. The dynamic has set up various stakeout points for senators if they want to talk to reporters, creating a bottleneck at times.

Schumer was spotted waiting to speak to reporters twice on Wednesday, once hovering behind Cornyn. Shortly thereafter, he approached a stakeout in the basement, where he waited as Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign What the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber MORE (D-Hawaii) finished talking to reporters. Hirono turned around, spotted him and said she was “done," ushering him to the cameras.

Other senators have used different tactics to try to get their message out. Cruz has launched a daily podcast called “The Verdict” about impeachment. An aide said it was being used as a way to “speak directly to the American people during the trail and provide insights and analysis that you wouldn't find on the evening news.”

Frustrations spilled over early Wednesday morning — still the opening portion of the trial that had started Tuesday afternoon — when Republican senators broke with the chamber’s decorum guidelines and clapped when White House counsel Pat Cipollone said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms Trump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify MORE (D-N.Y.) should be “embarrassed” for his rhetoric.

“I might have put my palms together,” said Johnson. “You might have heard a few groans every now and then too.”

The flashpoint underscores the dilemma for senators: Despite their status as both jury and judge President Trump’s impeachment trial, during the day-to-day procedure they are largely relegated to the sidelines. 

At one point, Perdue, coming off the floor during one of the breaks, appeared furious with Democrats.

“This is ridiculous. The hypocrisy of House members coming to the United States Senate and lecturing us about fairness is insulting,” he told The Hill when asked how he felt about being stuck on the floor.

The raucous rules fight was likely the peak, in terms of drama, of the trial for the next several days as the Senate turns to three days of opening arguments for House managers followed by three days for Trump’s legal team.

Each side gets up to 24 hours to make its case, but senators have a blunt request: Please don’t.

“God help us if we have to listen to Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Hillicon Valley: Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments | Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing | Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments MORE and the House Democrats prattle on for 24 hours nonstop,” Cruz told reporters.

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyAgencies play catch-up over security concerns with TikTok Typical income no longer covers major costs: Study Senate Democrats introduce legislation to change impeachment trial rules MORE (R-Mo.), referring to the roughly 13-hour floor marathon, added, “By 2 a.m. last night people were not happy.”  

Impeachment managers appeared to recognize at various points that they were delivering their arguments to 100 senators who have limited attention spans. Risch at one point was holding up his watch and tapping it as he looked toward the front of the chamber. He declined to say Wednesday if he was trying to signal for House managers to wrap up, saying he's not giving impeachment interviews. 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) joked to senators that he had 57 minutes left to deliver a rebuttal but quipped, “Don't worry. I won't use it!"

Rep. Jason CrowJason CrowTrump set to confront his impeachment foes Democratic impeachment manager shares quote from "Harry Potter's" Dumbledore during trial Impeachment manager dismisses concerns Schiff alienated key Republican votes: 'This isn't about any one person' MORE (D-Colo.), one of the House impeachment managers, also noted that senators appeared to be getting restless as he was delivering the opening arguments for Democrats.

“I do see the members moving and taking a break,” he said from the floor. “Would you like to take a break at this time? I have probably another 15 minutes.”