December 18th, 2009
04:33 PM ET
7 months ago

Franken takes on Lieberman as tensions builds in Senate

Washington (CNN) - Tensions stemming from the prolonged debate on health care flared Thursday afternoon when Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who was the presiding officer, refused to let Sen. Joe Lieberman finish his speech on the senate floor.

Lieberman, the bane of the Democratic Party's liberal base because of his opposition to creating a public option and expanding Medicare, was speaking about preserving the Medicare trust fund.

After his allotted ten minutes, Lieberman - an independent from Connecticut who sits with the Democratic caucus - asked for more time to finish his speech, a request customarily granted in the venerable chamber.

"In my capacity as the senator from Minnesota, I object," replied
Franken.

"Really?" Lieberman asked, seeming surprised by the rejection. "Okay," he continued with a chuckle, "I don't take it personally."

Immediately following the exchange, Lieberman's closest Republican ally, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, came to his defense.

"I must say that I don't know what's happening here in this body, but I think its wrong," said McCain. "I have been around here for 20-some years. [This is] the first time I have ever seen a member denied an extra minute or
two to finish his remarks."

A spokesperson for Franken explained that Lieberman was told to stop peaking because Senate leaders were enforcing the strict time limits so they could finish a defense spending bill and get to the health bill.

Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, said, "We did that to maintain order and [so] that no senator had an unfair advantage over another in terms of speaking. It was a simple request of the leader and Sen. Franken was adhering to the request of his leadership."

Later in the evening it appeared that Lieberman and Franken had made amends, as they could be seen talking, laughing and even hugging on the Senate floor.


Filed under: Al Franken • Joe Lieberman • Popular Posts
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Cleveland

    Joe Lieberman is worthless. He should have been taken behind the caucus woodshed a long time ago. However, we can't blame Joe Lieberman for single handedly causing progress to grind to a halt; we have to put the blame for the failure of this health care bill and what it was to represent squarely on the Obama administration whose leadership throughout this process has been weak to say the least.

    December 18, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. rick in NC

    Al only did what the Nation wants to do. He told Joe basically to sit down and shut up.

    Merry Christmas!

    December 18, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. hairgoop

    About time, his grandstanding for his personal exposure is sick. I'd say pass the health bill, and then strip him of any and all committees. He has been bought and paid for by the insurance/medical establishment, and it is disgusting.

    December 18, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  4. MVDCT

    How the people of Minnesota could elect such an officious jerk is beyond me.

    December 18, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. Gary

    Good for Al. Lieberman makes me gag these days.

    December 18, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. Daniel

    I'm with Franken. I wouldn't give another minute to a man who has betrayed his party and himself.

    December 18, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  7. Zion

    I am so glad that I am an independent. Republicans and Democrats are falling for the same crap from their respective parties and think that they're somehow for the working man. STUPID.

    December 18, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  8. Dale in Ohio

    Franken just proven beyond any doubt he should never been elected.
    Afreshman with no experience and no sense

    December 18, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. ThinkAgain

    McCain said, "I must say that I don't know what's happening here in this body, but I think its wrong," said McCain. "I have been around here for 20-some years."

    Well, McCain, I'll tell you what's been happening in the Senate: You and your obstructionist Republican colleagues have been doing absolutely EVERYTHING you can to stall passage of health care reform – including asking Mr. Mushmouth himself (Lieberman) to talk even more slowly than he usually does.

    The Democrats want to actually get something done for the American people. So, McCain, you can put a sock in you're self-righteous mouth when it comes to telling the Senate how to behave!

    December 18, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. EJW

    About time someone cut that self-serving idiot off. He is only interest in preserving his positon with the insurance companies in his state.

    December 18, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  11. Marc L

    As soon as Minnesotans realize who Franken really is, he will be out.

    December 18, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  12. Marc Benarrous

    Way to Go Mr. Franken! Joe is a flip flopper and just looking at him makes me ill....how can 1 man be so full of it... He obviously took some money from some lobbyist to make him change 180 degrees from his view on expanding medicare...way to hold true to the Americal Ideal Joe, make $ for yourself and screw the public need for Health reform..what a jerk

    December 18, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. barbara

    Franken is an angry man. You can see it on his face and hear it in his voice. He needs to get over whatever it is that makes him a miserable human being.

    December 18, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  14. Will

    Franken is such an extraordinary scumbag this is no surprise.

    December 18, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  15. Irene Baur

    It's about time someone shut Lieberman up! When will The Democrats start asserting themselves? If they don't, I won't vote for anyone!

    December 18, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  16. Erik

    Bravo Franken! Old Joe seems to change his mind as often as he changes his diapers... His request for extension was to update his stance as it had already changed since he started his speech...

    December 18, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  17. Voted4HealthCare

    I think "its" [sic] wrong for Lieberman to outright LIE to his constituents about his positions, choosing to represent in$urance greed instead of the American people.

    Good for Sen. Franken keeping the floor to the allotted time given to all senators. We need more leaders to take a principled stand in this debate.

    Enough of Lieberman's flip-flopping hypocrisy. Strip him of his undeserved chairmanship if he continues this nonsense.

    Health Reform Now with a majority-supported public option, as we elected this majority (AND Lieberman) to do.

    December 18, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  18. donttreadonme

    Al Franken is a bitter, angry, empty shell of man. He is an embarrasment to the senate.

    December 18, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. Mary

    OK – say what you will but it comes across as intentional and spiteful. 'do what you are told or else'. It is both shoking and disappointed that our government has become a 'dictatorship'.
    Time to fire all of them and start over.

    December 18, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  20. ThinkAgain

    Franken very politely asked Lieberman to adher to the rules of the Senate.

    McCain's typical Republican response: Whine and complain, be all self-righteous and feign indignation.

    McCain and his obstructionist cronies in the GOP can stuff it! They don't give a rat's behind about the American people and will do everything in their power to try to make our President and our country fail.

    GOP = Party Before Country

    December 18, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  21. Barbara Ryan

    Al Franken -like so many on the far left needs a lesson in civility!!!!

    December 18, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. Billy

    For them to imply that this was anything short of a DNC grudge coming to the surface is silly. You could see it in the smug expression on Franken's face when he replies. I am an independent that is finding myself more and more disgusted by the democrats on the Hill. How bad must the political landscape in Minnesota be to elect Al Franken to the US Senate? Seriously, Al Franken.

    December 18, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  23. Joan

    He didn't need more time to finish his speech. It was just the same thing he has been saying over and over on the news clips. He seems to enjoy hearing his own voice and also the attention his obstruction of the health care bill is getting him. How can he sleep at night knowing that his actions may keep millions of people from getting health insurance and may allow others who do have insurance to have it cut or the premiums raised? THREE MONTHS AGO he proposed and supported extended medicare. Why such a dramatic flip-flop unless it is to help the Republicans cause one of Pres. Obama's policies to fail? This man is a true politician who puts his agenda ahead of the people.

    December 18, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  24. bob

    Rock on Sen. Franken. I'm sending you a donation today.

    December 18, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  25. Thomas

    A non-story. The Senate has rules that cover this stuff.

    December 18, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
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