VIDEO: Afghan President Given Special Access to Senate Chamber

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is getting the royal treatment in Washington during his visit this week, with special lunches, dinners, meetings, but he ran up against a hurdle not even a foreign head of state with all of the clout of that office could surmount: the floor staff of the U.S. Senate.

As Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-MA, brought the president into the chamber, anxious staff, guardians of the rules and decorum of the body, nervously hustled him off, this according to an aide on the floor at the time.

The Senate floor, which was once open to any John Q Public, is now reserved strictly for current and former members, including those from the House, as well as approved staff.

Kerry was forced to formally ask his colleagues to allow the special visit. “As my colleagues know, we are currently being visited in Washington by the president of Afghanistan," Kerry said, "I would like to ask unanimous consent that the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, be permitted the privileges of coming to the floor to be greeted by the members of the United States Senate," after which Karzai was allowed back in. Senators in the chamber responded with a standing ovation.

Once on the floor, in the middle of the financial regulatory reform debate and a vote on an amendment, Karzai and a handful of Afghan ministers mixed and mingled with members for about five minutes, shaking hands with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, among other members.

It's not clear when the last time a foreign head of state was on the Senate floor, many head to the House chamber, instead, to address Congress. But it's clear it happens rarely. Betty Koed, associate Senate Historian found that back on Aug 16, 1967 former West German chancellor Kiesinger addressed the Senate.

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