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
"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.