Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine corralled her colleagues into a polite discussion to fund the US government Monday by forcing them to use a "talking stick." Yes, like the ones kindergarten teachers use to prevent children from talking over one another. Or the conch from Lord of the Flies.
As CNN first reported Monday, senators meeting in Collins' office for bipartisan negotiations on ending the government shutdown passed a literal stick back and forth, talking one at a time depending on who held the stick.
But apparently they couldn't even get that right. According to reports, they had to ditch the stick after one senator threw it to someone and nearly broke a glass figurine.
Politico reported that Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, tried to toss the stick to Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, of Virginia, during Saturday's talks but missed his target and nearly shattered a glass elephant that belonged to Collins, chipping the stick in the process. Alexander brought in a miniature basketball from his own office the next day "because it'd be safer than a stick," an Alexander aide said in a statement, and the discussion continued.
Sen. Collins showed off the stick on CNN's New Day Tuesday, saying it was originally from Africa and a gift from Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Collins called the stick "very helpful" during discussions.
It's not clear how the stick or the elephant fared. A spokesperson for Collins did not answer questions about the state of the stick or the elephant, but said that the stick was a ceremonial Native American object given to Collins by Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
Photos of Collins with then-Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in April 2016 appear to show a glass elephant on a cabinet by her door.