Senate hearings can be boring. They can stretch for hours, seemingly never ending.
But sometimes, they provide little moments that make the whole room burst out laughing.
That's what happened Monday after the Senate Judiciary Committee took a short break, a few hours into opening statements at the confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court.
Gorsuch, and most of the assembled senators, took the opportunity for a quick escape from the briefing room — perhaps a little food, or a bathroom break. But the committee chairman, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) stayed. He spoke with a few aides and absent-mindedly began tapping his gavel (which was placed right in front of his open microphone).
In the video above, you can see onlookers begin to peer around the room as the taps go on, and on, and on. They eventually number more than 100. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), at the left of the frame, begins to chuckle, and the rest of the room follows.
“It isn't meant to be funny,” Grassley eventually deadpans, to even more laughter. “But if it bothers my colleagues, I'll stop it.”
A few moments later, the hearing resumed — devoid of gavel-banging but filled with more senators' long statements.