During the Senate debate Thursday on a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, Sen. Richard Blumenthal used a glass of milk as a prop to try to bring attention to a new compromise that might end a deadlock over the dairy program that has stalled a massive farm bill.

Blumenthal, D-Conn., said a deal has been cut to keep the current dairy subsidy program while phasing in a new program that would replace those subsides with an insurance plan.

That insurance plan would pay out when a dairy farmer’s margin between expenses and revenues fall below a certain point. But lawmakers have scrapped a controversial plan dairy farmers were promoting that would allow them to reduce production when milk prices are low.

“Without going into all the details here, I think this agreement represents progress, and I’m going to carefully scrutinize it and seek to improve it from the standpoint of Connecticut’s dairy farmers,” Blumenthal said.

Then he said “reflecting the importance of milk to America is the fact that it is the only beverage other than water that is permitted on the floor of the United States Senate so far as I know … I’m pleased and proud to have today some milk on the floor, the first in my young experience as a United States Senator, and I’m not sure that it is a correct parliamentary inquiry, Mr. President, but … got milk? I’m willing to share.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, addressed Blumenthal. “I’ve been in the Senate 25 years, seen a lot of senators try to put a lot of things in those glasses. I’ve never seen milk on the Senate floor. Is that a permissible use?”

Blumenthal responded that he was told “it is a permissible beverage on the floor of the Senate.”

“If not, I’m sure I will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action,” he said.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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