December 18th, 2009
04:33 PM ET
6 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. Bmax

    Stifle the debate! Even a couple more minutes could further imperil the master plan which already lacks suficcient support. How tenuous the balance must really be despite all the reports of a "done deal" and "certain passage". Sounding more and more like the emperor's new clothes!

    December 18, 2009 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  2. A Dodd

    Franken did it, because he has no respect for anyone or anything. Everyone knows he does not belong in the Senate. He is a disgrace to all of America! I cannot express strongly enough how disappointed I am in the people of MN. Give the rest of America a break and take elections seriously! We have enough problems in this country without dopes like Franken being put into positions that are clearly above their heads!

    December 18, 2009 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  3. Chris B.

    Mr. Franken is in a capacity of a clown on the Senate floor.

    December 18, 2009 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  4. james

    Liebermann needs to be removed from every committee assignment or chairmanship he has, and just pushed right out of town on a rail. Politicians are politicians, but this guy has re-written the book on being duplicitous. His petty stances on medicare buy-in were based on another liberal congressman Weiner liking it, and not on what Liebermann actually thought of the idea.(stated he liked it 3 months ago).

    Grow a backbone, Joe!

    December 18, 2009 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  5. Caryn, Bloomfield, CT

    Good for Al Franken! Somebody needs to cut that blow-hard Lieberman off. And John McCain said it perfectly and didn't even realize it! "I've been around for 20-some years ..." That is the problem – most of these politicians have been around WAY TOO LONG. It is time for fresh, new ideas.

    December 18, 2009 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  6. Eric

    Okay thats just downright funny. I think it is great. Liberman is doing nothing but going against the democratic party and quite honestly i wish he would just have the balls to admit he is secretly a Republican. Personally I can't stand the man and wish he would just go away

    December 18, 2009 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  7. lame

    "Lieberman was told to stop peaking because"

    I wouldn't want Lieberman peaking at me either...

    December 18, 2009 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  8. Steven

    Way to go Senator Franken!

    December 18, 2009 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  9. Bob

    Al Franken is da Man!

    December 18, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  10. JimH

    Much ado about nothing.

    December 18, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  11. jjr

    Typical democrat, if they don't like what you are saying, they shut you up.

    December 18, 2009 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  12. Cliff

    Lieberman deserves no respect.

    December 18, 2009 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  13. Babaganush

    Sooner or later everyone knew that Al Franken would be revealed as completely unqualified to be a US Senator. A legislative body that used to be renowned for its statesmanship, decorum and civility now has this clown to deal with.

    December 18, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  14. Denny Gieck

    So what is the point of having a time limit of 10 minutes if someone can extend it effortlessly? Keep the debate short, concise and to the point. People need health care reform now. Ten minutes is plenty of time.

    December 18, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  15. Bob Zmuda

    Talk less, think more.

    December 18, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  16. Ed Dugan, Mountain Home, Arkansas

    Anytime you can get that idiot to shut up is a good time and this has nothing to do with the health care debate. On that issure, they all ought to shut up and start over. What is it about the resounding "NO" that the American people are saying that they don't understand?

    December 18, 2009 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  17. Economist

    The link on the main page says "Lieberman cut off..." which is wholly incorrect. He went over time. Given the obstructionist policies of the opponents of health care reform, it's understandable that the democrats are trying to keep people to their allotted time.

    December 18, 2009 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  18. Sen. Al Franken, presiding officer

    makes me laugh to read that

    Lieberman, please take it personally and quit your post

    December 18, 2009 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  19. andrewstl

    mcain and lieberman should go rub private parts together!

    they both should retire and catch up with current times!

    December 18, 2009 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  20. Marshall

    Once again, Franken is proven to be a tool of the party. Glad I don't live in Minnesota any more.

    December 18, 2009 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  21. John

    Franken is a joke to the Democrat party..... probably would have been better off with Letterman....

    December 18, 2009 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  22. sara

    McCain is a "follower" no wonder he could never lead anything. It was at the request of Reid and it's time the "traitor" shut his mouth anyway.

    December 18, 2009 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  23. Andy

    yeah, the open-minded LEFT, always willing to hear both sides of a story. Hypocrit jerks all of them.

    December 18, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  24. Mr. Davidson

    Thank Jesus ,should have been done years ago ,Franken for President.

    December 18, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  25. Seattle Sue

    If this is most that Lieberman gets out of this, he is lucky. And John McCain should keep his ugly nose out of this matter.

    December 18, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
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