December 18th, 2009
04:33 PM ET
11 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. Stephen

    Time for Lieberman to just officially join the Republican Party. He doesn't think independently...

    December 18, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. Concerned Democrat

    Franken turning the Senate Chambers into a SNL joke is in poor taste and shows his immaturity.

    As a Democrat I expect more from Franken an my fellow Democrats.

    December 18, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. pacaschera

    I can see why Joe Lieberman is too busy to read the bills he was elected to read, dude is too busy talking smack to be bothered to do his PAID job!

    December 18, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  4. Jeremy

    My apologies as someone from Minnesota (who absolutely did NOT vote for this guy) for putting this guy in the Chamber. He's always bee known as a hot-headed partisan hack. I think this goes to show. So much for intelligent debate. Before you say it was past Joe's time, it's clear that it is customary to honor a senators request to finish his remarks. It's this sort of partisan play that keeps things from getting done, hence the ridiculously low approval ratings for legislators.

    December 18, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  5. john

    Al Franken, the new lion on the Senate. He's every American's senator!

    December 18, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. Ann

    Good, Senator Franken! We need to show that Senator Lieberman is unneeded.

    December 18, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. Russ in Benton

    Joe Joe Joe, the old saying bad attention is better than no attention, in your case is not true.

    December 18, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. roro

    Good for Franken. I'm sick and tired of hearing Lieberman, who just likes to hear himself talk. What an ego!

    December 18, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  9. Amy, TX

    Finally!! SOMEONE shut him up!

    December 18, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. Richard Laswell

    Go Al go!! If it wasn't meant personally, it should have been. I endorse any attempt to embarrass Lieberman after the way he has embarrassed what use to be his own party. As for McCain, he is right. There is something going on in the Senate and Congress as a whole; that is the attempt by his party to disrupt and obstruct Congress from doing its work. Shame on who USE TO BE an American hero. He is no more.

    December 18, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. patNY

    Finally, someone put Baby in a corner!

    December 18, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. Walter Jasniewski

    The people running this country don't get it. This country will no longer be soon. The only way they know how to fix anything is by throwing billions of dollars at it. We need to get rid of ever single incumbent.

    December 18, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  13. Anonymous

    How did Al Franken get elected. He is an embarrassment to the Senate.

    December 18, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. Delay tactics one-sided

    I wonder why Sen McCain didn't jump to the floor when the Senator from the mid-west asked for a word by word reading to say how ridiculous this request was, in the interest of time. Then, the panel shouldn't have to resource to cut off times and make it look personal. Although I must say, I wonder why the Democratic caucus is so pissed at Mr. Lieberman :-)

    December 18, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. Procstylee

    Dems are only for free speech when they agree with what's being said.

    December 18, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. victim of the false prophet OBAMA

    Al Freakens actions must really please the loony left.

    December 18, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  17. carlos

    what did you expect from lopsided mc c, he also defends the hag from alaska

    December 18, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  18. Mark

    Lieberman, along with Democrats and Republicans no longer work for the American people. It is all about winning elections and not about acting in the interest of the American people.

    December 18, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. Really

    Franken should keep his mouth shut and allow Senators to be heard. Typical Democrat. Silence the people and push their agenda. The left is so closed minded. It is their way or... actually they only know their way.

    December 18, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  20. Crazy Cat Lady

    You forgot to mention that, when McCain complained about how he'd never seen such a terrible thing before in the Senate, Senator Carl Levin pointed out that the ten-minute rule had been enforced just a few hours earlier that very day.

    December 18, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  21. dustbunny

    That's franken for you. He is a total jerk.

    December 18, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. Fitz in Texas

    Franken is nothing but a rude jerk in this case and you people that voted for him are fools.........Good for you McCain for calling out Franken for being a self centered rude brat.

    December 18, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  23. Mike in SA

    And 4 years from now Al Fraken can be cut off from finishing one of his inane speeches as the Republican presiding officer shows him what goes around, comes around.

    December 18, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. dave

    How dare anyone ask a question or present a non-liberal plan! Why are we not down to a 1 party system yet? Can you believe the gall of Lieberman to think that he has a right to debate anything? If only everyone was exactly the same.

    December 18, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. Linda Galloway

    What a shame for the state of Minnesota!!

    December 18, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
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