December 18th, 2009
04:33 PM ET
10 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. Ferret out the BS

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. Mansfield Bob

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  3. robbert5

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. Mike

    Just vote no!

    December 18, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  5. Kenneth

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    Shutting up the air bags to get the people's business done?

    Absolutely change I voted for!

    December 18, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  7. Emma

    I guess that is one way to make a statement about Lieberman's ridiculous oppositional behavior.

    December 18, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. JV

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  9. Ron

    Say goodbye to the committee chairmanship, Joe! That's next on the agenda.

    December 18, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. Greg Smith

    Coburn wastes almost 2 days requiring a 700+ page amendment to read aloud and now the replicans are complaining. Why am I not surprised.

    December 18, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. Rush

    Lieberman doesn't support the troops

    December 18, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  12. Freedom Rocks!

    Franken is scum – period! There's no need for discussion.

    December 18, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  13. Ray

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. Mike in Des Moines

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  15. j

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  16. Fair is Fair

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  17. Anonymous

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  18. Mary

    Good for Franken and the demo leadership. Lieberman is abandoning his liberal roots and siding with insurance and pharmaceutical

    December 18, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. pro-public optioin

    Good for you Al Franken!! Why have a ten minute limit if it is not upheld.

    December 18, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. LW in AZ

    A bunch of whiny babies who are hijacking true health care reform.

    December 18, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  21. Beasley

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  22. Hussein Aboul-Hosn

    I think it is quite refreshing to finally see a Democratic Senator stand-up to Senator Lieberman. It is overdue.

    December 18, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  23. mike

    Weel Done, He is an old windbag..,

    December 18, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  24. RGB in MN

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  25. Clayton

    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.

    December 18, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
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