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Milk or water? Senators limited to strict food rules during the impeachment trial

Senators will have to endure the trial without coffee and energy drinks, but at least there's plenty of candy.
/ Source: TODAY

The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is not for the faint of heart — or, apparently, the lactose intolerant.

Aside from water, milk is the only other beverage allowed in the Senate during the trial, so thirsty senators will not be able to reach for a cup of coffee if they need a little jolt during a trial where reporters have already witnessed at least one Republican senator appearing to fall asleep on Tuesday.

It's a long-standing rule and not just a nod to the struggling milk industry. Recently, two giant U.S. dairy companies have sought bankruptcy protection in the last three months as sales of alternative milk products soar.

"We didn't spot any glasses of milk on the Senate floor, but that is the only drink that is allowed aside from water,'' Kasie Hunt, NBC News political correspondent, said Wednesday while appearing on TODAY. "It's a quirk of the Senate rules."

However, if any senators need a sugar rush to stay sharp during the proceedings, they can just head over to a desk on the Republican side of the chamber next to a busy entrance.

"There also was a candy desk,'' Hunt said. "No food is technically allowed on the Senate floor, but there is one desk. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania stocks candy in there that people can eat if in fact they get too tired."

Toomey has handled stocking the candy desk since 2015, continuing a tradition that started in 1965 when Sen. George Murphy, a Republican from California, kept a stash in his desk to satisfy his own sweet tooth.

The candy desk is currently filled with Rolo caramels, Milky Ways, 3 Musketeers bars, Palmer Peanut Butter Cups, Goldenberg's Peanut Chews and Hershey's bars with almonds, a Toomey spokesman told The Morning Call. It's no surprise that several of the companies that make those candies are based in Toomey's home state of Pennsylvania.

While the candy desk and milk rule are long-standing traditions, new rules have also been instituted specifically for this impeachment trial. No photographers are allowed in the chamber, which means the media and general public will be relying on sketch artists to convey the scene.

The milk rule is particular to the Senate, as members of the House of Representatives are not allowed to enjoy dairy. Other quirky rules for the Senate include no hats for men, no children over the age of 1, no flowers (unless a senator dies), no pants without blazers, no electronics and no smoking, according to The Washingtonian.

However, while no senators have been caught sneaking in coffee or a Red Bull to circumvent the beverage rules, they have apparently found a way around the technology ban that requires them to forfeit their cell phones before entering the chambers.

"Some senators were caught wearing Apple watches on the floor,'' Hunt said.