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Franken shuts down Lieberman on Senate floor

Posted by: Eric Roper under Minnesota U.S. senators Updated: December 17, 2009 - 5:41 PM

Sen. John McCain took a shot at Al Franken on the Senate floor this afternoon for not allowing Joe Lieberman extra time to speak about health care.

Presiding over the Senate, Franken cut off Lieberman for exceeding his 10-minute speaking limit and then denied the Connecticut senator's appeal for more time -- a rare occurence in the legislative body.

This exchange prompted McCain to fire back, exclaiming that he's never "seen a member denied an extra minute or so as [Franken] just did."

An Independent member of the Democratic caucus, Lieberman has tentatively voiced support for the health care reform bill after essentially forcing one of its key provisions to be nixed early this week.

When Michigan Sen. Carl Levin stepped in to say that it had also happened earlier in the day because of an effort to "get this bill going," McCain responded that, "I just haven’t seen it before myself, and I don’t like it."

A spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid said that Franken was merely adhering to a request from Reid to strictly enforce the rules because the Senate is already in session practically "round the clock."

This is second time this week Franken has ruffled feathers on the Senate floor.

Here is the video:

Here is the transcript:

Franken: “The senator has spoken for 10 minutes.”

Lieberman: “I wonder if I could ask unanimous consent for just an additional moment.”

Franken: “In my capacity as a Senator from Minnesota, I object.

Lieberman: “Really. OK. I don’t take it personally. I will ask unanimous consent that the remainder of my remarks be included in the record as if read.”

Franken: “Without objection. The Senator from Arizona.”

McCain: "Mr. President I ask unanimous consent that the Senator from Rhode Island be recognized for 10 minutes followed by the Senator from Michigan, the distinguished chairman of the Armed Services committee who will be speaking on the bill and that I be recognized to follow them.”

Unidentified: "I assume that that’s for 10 minutes each.”

Franken: "Is that for 10 minutes each?

McCain: "Yea. I do. But I just saw – I‘ve been around here 20-some years, first time I’ve ever seen a member denied an extra minute or two to finish his remarks. And I must say that I don’t know what’s happening here in this body, but I think it’s wrong. And so it’s fine with me that it be 10 minutes but I’ll tell you I’ve never seen a member denied an extra minute or so as the chair just did."

Levin: "… I think that the same thing did occur earlier this afternoon for reasons which have to do with trying to get this bill going, but any  --"

McCain: "I just haven’t seen it before myself, and I don’t like it. And 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 if it would be that urgent."

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