December 18th, 2009
04:33 PM ET
8 years 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

"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. Charleston, SC

    Lieberman in the end will win. Don't mess with the insurance companies or their spokesman.

    December 18, 2009 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  2. Dan

    Democrats behaving like uncivilized children ?!?! Say it isn't so !!

    December 18, 2009 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  3. mark

    Yes, rush, rush, hurry hurry lets get this passed before the american people realize what is in it.

    December 18, 2009 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  4. Marie MD

    Does anyone pay any attention to mcnasty anymore. After his failed run last year and his part in bringing that idiot from AK to the front lines I would keep my big mouth shut!!!
    He is a nobody.

    December 18, 2009 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  5. ib

    Franken is proof of how big a joke the democrats have become over trying to pass something the majority of American people does not want.

    December 18, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  6. DaveM

    Bravo, Mr. Franken...

    December 18, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. Jasper

    Hey, Joe, you gotta go!

    December 18, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  8. Dave

    Good for you Al Franken! Somebody showed some guts to this arrogant loud mouth. For once when he was standing in the spot light he was told to shut up! Great job Al! Do it again! Please!

    December 18, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  9. Obama/Biden = One and Done, please God....

    Sorry, Al, you are not on SNL any more, but you certainly remain a clown.

    December 18, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  10. MissyW

    If there is a time limit, then all leaders should be able to adhere to it. Its really not that hard. I think alot of what Lieberman does and says is a very blatant passive-agressive way to undermine the Democartic leadership who at least is trying to get something done. He's not fooling anyone.

    December 18, 2009 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  11. ran

    Good for Franken. Lieberman is a prime reason we need term limits in congress. As is Nelson,Byrd,McCain or any other who has been there over 2 terms.

    Our founders did not expect there would be professional politicians if they did I believe they would have but in place terms limits.

    December 18, 2009 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  12. Richie

    Lieberman is an insurance industry shill.

    December 18, 2009 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It isn't a surprise that Franken or another liberal senator did that. He has angered many people. I don't understand why Lieberman didn't talk about his problem months ago. Where is his option? Why is he objecting to the Medicare option now.

    December 18, 2009 08:54 am at 8:54 am |

    Stop grinning, Joe. OF COURSE we take it personally. Hijacking health reform for personal ego and personal financial gain is not only immoral but destructive, and will of course kill thousands.

    December 18, 2009 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Somebody should shut Lieberman up.

    December 18, 2009 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  16. J. Rochester, NY

    Franken is one of the ONLY members of Congress that deserves any respect at this point.

    December 18, 2009 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  17. Chris W

    I say we tar and feather the Liebermans and put them on the first flight to their retirement home in Tel Aviv. Somebody at least throw a pie in his face, telling him to shut up is not enough.

    December 18, 2009 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  18. lovable liberal

    A slap on the wrist when Reid should throw Lieberman out of the caucus – and his chairmanship.

    December 18, 2009 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  19. Dave

    Well, what you expect after electing a comedian to public office?

    December 18, 2009 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  20. chase

    Franken is a joke.

    December 18, 2009 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  21. Me Down South

    I guess it's better than having to duck a flying shoe....

    December 18, 2009 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  22. Lydia

    Joe, you've said too much've become the Ralph Nader of the Senate. You block progress because you enjoy the power of doing so. If you gave any thought to the average American, you wouldn't block the public option. You creep.

    GO HOME JOE............and stop talking. Or hide behind John McCain; that's safe.

    Good for you, Al Franken!!!

    December 18, 2009 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  23. Avi shlomo

    Early one he cut someone else. Fascist turncoat Liberman deserves this. Perhaps he should join fascist zionist liberman od israel.

    December 18, 2009 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  24. Minnesotan

    Great job, Al! Lieberman was droning on about nothing, as he usually does, and making no sense. We need more politicians like Al Franken to keep Congress from being such a bunch of doddering old fools like Lieberman.

    December 18, 2009 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  25. B E in TN

    you da man al!!! send him to the gop where he belongs and get out of the way of progess in america!!!!

    perhaps connecticut will elect him for what he is the next time.......judas leiberman, Republican!!!!!!!

    December 18, 2009 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
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