Liberal anger toward Sen. Joe Lieberman boiled over to the Senate floor this afternoon when Sen. Al Franken denied the Connecticut independent a routine request to extend his remarks.
Sen. Lieberman was speaking out in favor of an amendment he is offering along with Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Sheldon Whitehouse to strengthen the proposed Medicare advisory commission as a means of reducing health care costs.
After Lieberman spoke for 10 minutes, Franken, who was presiding over the Senate, informed him that his time had expired. Lieberman asked that he be given “an additional moment” to finish up — a request that requires the consent of all Senators, but something that is typically granted without objection.
But before he could continue, Sen. Franken speaking from the presiding officer’s table, snapped, “In my capacity as Senator from Minnesota, I object.”
A suprised Lieberman laughed. “Really?” he said incredulously. “Okay, I don’t take it personally.”
Sen. John McCain then took the floor and came to Lieberman’s defense.
“I’ve been around here 20 some years, it’s the first time I’ve seen a member denied an extra minute or two finish his remarks,” McCain lamented. “I don’t know what’s happening here in this body, but I think it’s wrong.”
Sen. Carl Levin responded that, “The same thing did occur earlier this afternoon for reasons which have to do with trying to get this bill going.”
“Well, I haven’t seen it myself, and I don’t like it,” McCain snapped back. “I think it harms the comity of the Senate not to allow one of our members at least a minute. I’m sure that time is urgent here, but I doubt it would be that urgent.”