Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, drew gasps during a Senate hearing Wednesday when he accused the Judiciary Committee of putting him and other black lawmakers “at the back of the bus” by making them testify at the end of a Senate confirmation hearing for Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.
“I want to express my concerns about being made to testify at the very end of the the witness panels. To have a senator, a House member, and a living civil rights legend testify at the end of all of this is the equivalent of being made to go to the back of the bus,” Richmond complained in opening remarks for his testimony.
Richmond joined New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a veteran of the 1960s civil rights movement, in testifying against Sessions on the second day of his attorney general confirmation hearing. Booker’s testimony is the first time a sitting senator has testified against another sitting senator during a cabinet-level hearing.
Booker announced on Monday that he would be testifying against Sessions. It is unclear when those arrangements were made or how the Judiciary Committee determined its schedule.
“It is a petty strategy and the record should reflect my consternation at the unprecedented process that brought us here,” Richmond continued, adding that he did not mind being relegated to the second day of the hearing.
“But to have a living legend like John Lewis handled in such a fashion is beyond the pale and the message sent by this process is duly noted by the 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus,” he concluded.