WASHINGTON — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., performed the Heimlich maneuver on Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, during a Republican conference lunch at the Capitol on Thursday, Ernst tweeted.
“Can’t help but choke on the woke policies Dems are forcing down our throats. Thanks, Dr. @RandPaul!” Ernst said in a post on X.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP file But it wasn’t woke policies she was choking on — it was food she had provided to the GOP conference as part of a tradition that a different senator each week brings food from their home state.
“It was Iowa day, lots of big pork chops and beef sandwiches,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., said after the lunch, noting he didn’t witness Paul performing the Heimlich.
Republicans who attended the lunch said they were thankful for the quick action by Paul, who has practiced medicine as an eye doctor.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who often spars with Paul over policy issues, said: “It’s a good thing he did. God bless Rand Paul. I never thought I’d say that.”
Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming said, “It was great that Rand was there.”
Lummis said the two senators stood up and explained to colleagues what had just happened and then discussed the importance of knowing what to do when someone is choking.
“We talked about how you can get Heimlich training here, and other people talked about incidents that they’ve been involved in where someone required the Heimlich,” Lummis said.
Ernst, 53, who is in her second term, was seen walking away from the lunch after it concluded but wasn’t asked about the incident, because at the time it had yet to be reported.
She isn’t the first senator to receive the Heimlich during a lunch with colleagues. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., broke Claire McCaskill’s rib while performing the Heimlich on McCaskill, D-Mo., in 2018.
Frank Thorp V
Frank Thorp V is a producer and off-air reporter covering Congress for NBC News, managing coverage of the Senate.