December 18th, 2009
04:33 PM ET
8 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. John

    No, they did it because it was Joe Lieberman! If it had been Mark Warner, Claire McCaskill, or any other fall in line Democrat they would have been allowed to finish. Lieberman & McCain get it. Stewart Smalley does not.

    December 18, 2009 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  2. Judith

    Good for you Al. It's about time somebody put the creepy little toad in his place. I know Al was just doing what was asked of him but it still sounded good to have him tell Ole Joe he had to shut up.

    December 18, 2009 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  3. Amazing

    Al Franken is a clown and apparently he wants to be head ringmaster. What a jerk, anyone who voted for him should have their voting rights taken away.

    December 18, 2009 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  4. www.circleparkforum.com

    Lieberman's a weasel who's enjoying all the attention he's getting as he helps rip the Democratic Party apart.

    The real scorn must be reserved for those who enabled this weasel – Harry Reid and Barack Obama – who have totally failed the American people.

    December 18, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  5. dave

    Thank god someone had the good sense to stand up to this clown. Nice going, Franken.

    December 18, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  6. Duck Fallas

    Liebie is great- as long as he's saying what you want to hear. For the right price, he'll say anything. Kind of like the 1-900 numbers in the 80's.

    December 18, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. No Longer Hopeful in America

    Good for Franken. When you haven't been a member of the good old boy's club very long, you know what needs to be done!

    December 18, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  8. Carmen, Miami FL

    I hope Franken meant it personally, and I hope that later meeting was for show. Lieberman is holding up reform, and Democrats need to show him that it won't be tolerated.

    December 18, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. Joe

    I can't figure out if Lieberman is a republican in sheep's clothing, or if it is McCain as a democrat. Either way, it is good these 2 don't always tow the party line–they actually think the issues through.

    December 18, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  10. Pat

    Politics as usual.

    December 18, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  11. Ed

    Joe Lieberman is arrogant, corrupt and self-promoting ARSE WHOLE!

    December 18, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  12. Nothing New Here

    An outsider casuing a rucus on the senate floor? How dare he challenge the old school (I mean – really old school – 20 years is way too long on the floor).

    December 18, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  13. Doug

    Franken is an idiot. Joe should not put up with this... Filibuster the deal Joe. Show Franken who really has the Power.

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

    Was this a Saturday Night Live skit? It's scary to think that someone who declared the entire decade of the 80'S the "me , Al Franken Decade" has come into political power.

    December 18, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  15. David

    A "reporter" might have dug a little deeper with this story and let us know if other Senators were denied extra time or if it was just Lieberman.

    December 18, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  16. Terry, TX

    The same thing that happened to Joe Wilson...should happen to Franken. Come on Reid do your thing...yeah right. The Wisconsin voters will take care of Franken... he is the embarrassment ....we all thought he would be.

    December 18, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. James Brooklyn N.Y.

    We should have all of the traitors in the senate gagged. Only then can we get something done.

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

    That's what he deserves. He has been a roadblock in the heath care reform. I will pass the bill to him in the next elections.

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

    Good thing it wasn't a republican or I am sure he would have been lynched by now. The United States is so political and messed up.

    December 18, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  20. Randolph Carter. I'm no expert but...

    Was this the same senator John McCain who, during last year's presidential campaign, proposed a healthcare reform plan that would subsidize insurance for those who can't afford it to be paid for with $1.3 trillion in cuts to medicare and medicaid over the next ten years? Have a nice day!

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

    Franken is just trying to combat stalling tactics intended to kill the bill. Lieberman's speech was not important.

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

    Cannot believe what is happening to this country, it is a disgrace!

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

    What do you expect from the junior joker who stole an election? Just the Democratic way

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

    Look, we're talking about Joe Lieberman here. This guy has been thwarting progress for far too long. Can you blame Franken?

    December 18, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  25. bill

    Joe "Two-Faced" Lieberman should be silenced.

    December 18, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
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