The Washington Times - October 31, 2011, 05:00PM

Inside voices, please.

A Senate staffer came in for a scolding from the chamber’s top lawmaker Monday when Majority Leader Harry Reid, in the middle of bashing his Republican colleagues, found himself distracted. The culprit was one of the Senate parliamentarians, who sits in a prominent seat on the lower level of the Senate dais, just beneath the presiding officer and in between him and Mr. Reid.


On Monday afternoon, as Mr. Reid began the session with his usual opening remarks, the parliamentarian was talking on one of the phones provided at the desk for the clerks and parliamentarians to handle immediate Senate business.

Usually their conversations go unnoticed, but on Monday the parliamentarian’s voice could be heard up in the press viewing gallery, and also by Mr. Reid, who stopped his attack on the GOP long enough to demand order.

“Could the staff keep their voice down? It’s really distracting,” he said, waving his hands in a manner that suggested she lower her volume. “Please talk so I don’t have to hear — listen to you, please, OK?”

Ever vigilant, Sen. Chris Coons, who was presiding over the Senate, lightly rapped his gavel to punctuate the request.

After he finished his speech, Mr. Reid went up to the dais and again repeated his request, privately, again telling her that it was “distracting.”