December 18th, 2009
04:33 PM ET
3 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. Anthony

    Good for Al, don't let that weasel Lieberman speak any more than necessary!

    December 18, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  2. Jeff

    I live in CT and I like Lieberman. Franken should go back to SNL and tape that stupid satellite dish to his head. At least then his head would be useful.

    And by the way, how the heck does a freshman comedian senator get to be presiding officer of anything? I assume there is some pecking order. What, were all the kindergartners already napping?

    December 18, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. Silence Dogoode

    Well, waiting for an apology from Franken or any democrat would be like asking them to read the US Constitution...frustrating and futile...

    December 18, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. beck

    I dont feel bad for liberman. he deserved it.

    He is denying healthcare to the American people and Franken denied him extra time to complete his speech. Its not even tit-for-tat.

    He will soon losr his seat in the senater by the people of the most liberal state, then it will be tit-for-tat.

    December 18, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  5. Michael

    Much ado about nothing! They are on a schedule, everyone already knows that Lieberman stands with the insurance companies, and McCain is becoming as much of an opportunist as Palin. Grow up, all of you in Washington, and get us some reform!

    December 18, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  6. teena

    I guess Sens McCain and Lieberman have forgotten that the rules of the Senate and other houses of government were enacted to prevent the "tyranny of the minority". But of course, the party of No would conveniently forget this when they are the party of the minority!

    December 18, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  7. Scott

    Minnesota Nice????? The only thing funnier than that idea is the clowns Minnesota dopes elect.

    December 18, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  8. Kirk

    Good for Mr. Franken. If you don't shut the moron republican's up at the alloted time, self-employed people like me will NEVER be able to afford health care. They are NOT listening to their constituents.

    December 18, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  9. Julia - Native American from Idaho

    A; Franken did the right thing, Lieberman is a selfish prostitute for the insurance companies. Lieberman could care less about the poor sick people in this country that are dying because they have no insurance. Lieberman what a disgrace to our country.

    December 18, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  10. Reformer

    Three cheers for Franken!! This response should be taken with every Blowhard senator - which entails about 100% of these idiots!

    December 18, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. Joe

    God bless, Al Franken.
    Can he do that every time Lieberman starts to speak?

    December 18, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  12. k

    A tip o' the hat to Senator Franken.

    We can all use a break from the irritating sound of Senator Foghorn's voice( I think he did the alien tripod horn sound on War of the Worlds). But we could all REALLY use a break from his lousy public policy philosophy.

    Hey Joe, why don't you put OUR money where your mouth is? Be a stand-up guy and opt-out of the platinum health care insurance we buy for you, and go out and buy your own on the "free market" (I miss the way W used to pronounce that: like he had a mouth full of Cheetos).

    Maybe you could start a blog on how easy it is to get covered by a FOR-PROFIT insurance company with your pre-existing condition: your advanced age.

    December 18, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  13. Ben in Texas

    Leave it to the Repugnants to object to observing Senate rules, when the tables are turned.

    Frankly, I think they should find a rule that prevents Lieberman from ever opening his trap. If the Repugnants were in charge, they would use those tactics on a renegade senator in a heartbeat.

    December 18, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  14. AnProf

    Sen. Al-Small-and-Petty-Franken will regret his rudeness, once the Dems lose their majority in Congress.
    (Although I can understand why Franken would try to shut down the truth from being spoken aloud about Medicare's serious budget deficits.)
    Thank heavens for Independents like Joe; we need more of them!

    December 18, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  15. Huckapardoner

    Reid was trying to keep these idiots from "stalling". It only looked good for Franken to whack Lie-berman over the head, but don't read so much into it.

    December 18, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  16. David

    McCain is right. "I don't know what's happening here in this body, but I think it's wrong". McCain himself isn't capable of recognizing his part in what's wrong, but we should not pretend that this isn't a sign of an unhealthy body politic.

    December 18, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  17. Charles

    And I'm sure Sen Reid will object when the Rep's do the same thing to his party the next time they are in power. What a bunch of junior high whiners!

    December 18, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  18. Tony Dunn

    This traitor Leiberman shouldn't even be allowed to speak let alone be cutoff. This guy betrayed his constituents by denying them affordable healthcare, he denied healthcare people who are near retirement. Its a disgrace he is even being represented his constituents should be throw him out and not wait for next elections which is no doubt he will lose.

    December 18, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  19. DJ

    Real mature there, Franken. People said you would turn congress into even more of a circus and you have. Congrats!

    December 18, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  20. Kathy

    About time a representative from the Democratic party shut old Droopy Joe down!! GOOD JOB!!!!!

    December 18, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  21. HD

    Lieberman is quick to send billions of our tax dollars to Isreal every year. But he has a problem with spending money that will actually help the american people get proper healthcare. This guy a just a political tool for foreign interests and could care less about the american people.

    December 18, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  22. richard

    Refreshing in the fact that political posturing can shut the mouth of Mr. L.
    Kudos to Mr. Franken for his efforts to remove a platform for political diatribes by this mealy mouthed Senator from Conn.

    December 18, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  23. Fan of Common Sense

    Now how wise was this for a legislator whose trying to pass a bill that needs EVERY LAST VOTE? See how much your party values you, Joe?

    December 18, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  24. Student

    Way to go AL! Let's change the way congress use to conduct business.

    December 18, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. lj

    It's about time someone shut him up. Go Al Franken!!!!!!!!!!11

    December 18, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
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