The Senate confirmation hearing for Steven Mnuchin as secretary of the Treasury got off to a fiery start Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) directed a joke at Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that sparked ire among fellow Senate Democrats.

"Senator Wyden, I've got a Valium pill here that you might want to take before the second round," Roberts said as he began reaching into his pocket as if he actually had the pill. "Just a suggestion, sir."

Valium is used to treat anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms or muscle spasms.


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Wyden then offered his suggestion to Roberts to keep it "brief." As Roberts was addressing Mnuchin, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) interjected.

"Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, I hope that that comment about Valium doesn't set the tone for 2017 in this committee. I like Senator Roberts, but I can't quite believe that he would say that to a distinguished senator from Oregon," Brown said.

A heated exchange ensued between Brown and Roberts, who said "just a little pinprick of humor might help this committee from time to time."

As Roberts resumed, Wyden then appealed to Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that "we have many colleagues waiting."

"Fine Ron, I'm done," Roberts said, as Hatch then turned the floor over to Mnuchin for his opening statement.

Watch the video of the exchange above.


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