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.
Good for Senator Franken and the leadership. Healthcare is too important legislation to allow 1 individual to delay it or negatively change it for the majority of Americans that want positive action and positive change.
I wish someone had hugged Harry Reid as a child, so that today he would be less inclined to make the Senate his fascist and intolerant playhouse.
So in essence much ado about nothing by the media as usual. Why don't you guys report on the issues and not on these human interest stories. Maybe then the public might just a little bit better informed.
Just vote no!
Lieberman and the Republicans are utilizing every stall tactic they can think of to prevent ANY progress on bills that affect humanity. Politics has become a money "game" and anyone who has been in office more than 10 years is corrupt. We need to get rid of any senator or congressman who exhibits the appearance of being corrupt and just start fresh. They are easy to identify, two stepping issues, prolonging votes, connections with lobbyists, flip flopping on common sense, oh and just follow the money.
Shutting up the air bags to get the people's business done?
Absolutely change I voted for!
I guess that is one way to make a statement about Lieberman's ridiculous oppositional behavior.
There goes ol' McCain trying to use agism in his favor. The fact of the matter is Lieberman is a pure waste of space in terms of this country's progress. He is not needed as a policy maker.
Say goodbye to the committee chairmanship, Joe! That's next on the agenda.
Coburn wastes almost 2 days requiring a 700+ page amendment to read aloud and now the replicans are complaining. Why am I not surprised.
Lieberman doesn't support the troops
Franken is scum – period! There's no need for discussion.
Franken is still, and will always be, a comedian. The people of Minnesota must want to be entertained. What amazes me is that the Senate would allow a clown to preside over anything.
Funny. Wasn't Franken narrowly elected over Coleman because Coleman was too much of a lap dog to the Republican Party? Guess Minnesota still has a lap dog in the Senate.
We have heard enough from Lieberman... It's time for the Democrats to shut him up for good – he has betrayed the American people for too long and too many times.
From the state that gave us Jesse "The Body" Ventura, we get the gift that will keep on giving for the next 5 years – Al "The Clown" Franken.
Must be all that yellow snow they eat up there.
It is about time Liberman was pulled in a bit. I hope he loses his chairmanship if he has one. He should be pushed back to a jounior member status.
Good for Franken and the demo leadership. Lieberman is abandoning his liberal roots and siding with insurance and pharmaceutical
Good for you Al Franken!! Why have a ten minute limit if it is not upheld.
A bunch of whiny babies who are hijacking true health care reform.
It would seem to me that Joe Lieberman is being punished for his failure to cave in to Democratic Party orthodoxy. Suppressing dissent should never be condoned in a democracy. However, one-party rule is seldom a characteristic of a democracy, either.
I think it is quite refreshing to finally see a Democratic Senator stand-up to Senator Lieberman. It is overdue.
Weel Done, He is an old windbag..,
Franken is an id iot. Remember he is from the same state as people who still put Wellstone bumper stickers on their cars.
What a joke, no pun intended.
Why are liberal Democrats pushing this bill so hard? I'm a democrat and I am starting to question my affiliation and voting habits after the whole health care and "man-made" global warming hoax.