Franken shuts down Lieberman speech on Senate floor

Devin Henry

Minnesota Senator Al Franken took the rare move of ending a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday.

While presiding over the chamber, Franken, a Democrat, cut off Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman when Lieberman reached the 10 minute mark of his speech on a proposed amendment to the health care bill.

Lieberman asked Franken to grant him an extra minute to finish his speech, a common practice in Congress, but Franken denied the request.

Sen. John McCain, a Lieberman ally, stood up and said it was the first time he had ever seen a member denied time to finish a speech. He called it "wrong."

Franken told Minnesota Public Radio later that he was following instructions from Majority Leader Harry Reid, who wanted to speed up debate on the bill, which Democrats are trying to pass before Christmas.

Franken also said he supported Lieberman’s amendment, saying, "I agreed with every word he said for the entire 10 minutes."

 

Thursday’s incident comes two days after Franken had a contentious floor exchange with Republican Sen. John Thune over – you guessed it – health care.