1 of 2 | Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., (pictured during a 2020 subcommittee hearing) stood up and challenged Teamsters President Sean O'Brien to a fight. File Photo by Greg Nash/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Thrown elbows and threats of a fistfight marked a tense day on Capitol Hill with a potential government shutdown looming.
During a hearing on labor unions by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Oklahoma Republican Markwayne Mullin stood up and challenged Teamsters President Sean O'Brien to a fight.
Mullin read some social media posts O'Brien had tweeted following a previous Senate hearing before getting into a back-and-forth with him.
"If you want to run your mouth, we can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here," Mullin said.
"That's fine. Perfect," O'Brien responded.
"Do you want to do it right now," Mullin asked.
"I'd love to do it right now," O'Brien replied.
"Well stand your butt up then," Mullin said.
"You stand your butt up, big guy," O'Brien said.
Mullin then stood briefly as Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called on him to sit down. He pounded the gavel several times as Mullin and O'Brien continued to exchange barbs.
"You're a United States senator. Sit down," Sanders said to Mullin. "This is a hearing. God knows the American people have enough contempt for Congress. Let's not make it worse."
After Mullin returned to his seat and order was restored, Mullin and O'Brien debated over who had issued a challenge to the other. O'Brien said Mullin "challenged me to a cage match, acting like a schoolyard bully."
Sanders again intervened and called on Mullin and O'Brien to focus on economic issues and other relevant topics, and not discuss "physical abuse."
"This is a hearing to discuss economic issues," Sanders reminded the committee.
Mullin then recalled O'Brien being suspended by the Teamsters over making threats to its members. O'Brien was accused of organizing harassment and intimidation efforts against members.
Mullin then attempted to challenge O'Brien to fight him at a charity event in Tulsa, Okla., on April 30, but Sanders again intervened.
"Accept my challenge, tough guy," Mullin said as O'Brien began to respond to the his previous statements.
"You're -- what should be one of the most influential people in this country, making changes" O'Brien said. "You're focused on debate that's not even relevant."
According to Mullin's website he is a former mixed martial arts fighter with a record of 5-0 and was inducted into the Oklahoma Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Elsewhere in the Capitol Building, Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., accused Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., of elbowing him in the kidneys. Rep. Matt Gaetz has called for an Ethics Committee investigation.
Lawmakers have until Friday at midnight to pass an appropriations bill and avert a government shutdown.