On the Senate floor today, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) sent Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) a strong message today when as acting president he denied Lieberman’s request for more time to speak. The message was simple. If Lieberman is going to destroy healthcare reform, then he shouldn’t count on getting any future help from Democrats.
When Lieberman ran out of time, he asked for an extra second to finish up, and Franken said, “In my capacity as Senator from Minnesota, I object.” Lieberman was surprised, but sat down then Lieberman’s BFF John McCain freaked out, “I’ve never seen a member denied an extra minute or so, as the chair just did.” Democrat Carl Levin pointed out that he thought something like this happened earlier today, but that didn’t appease McCain who replied, “I think it harms the comity of the Senate.”
Maybe Democrats were trying to enforce the ten minute rule, but the message being sent to all Republicans and sympathizers like Lieberman was obvious. They aren’t going to put up with any more stall tactics and nonsense. Franken’s office said that he was just enforcing the rules, but this is a rule that is never enforced.
Senators break this rule dozens, if not hundreds of times a day. Everyone will deny it, but the message to Lieberman was that if he is intent on bringing down healthcare reform, he is not going to get an inch of courtesy from Democrats.
It looks like Harry Reid has finally started to play hardball. It is about time, and long overdue. It is probably too late to save the Medicare buy in, or the public option, but was certainly to at least see that at least one Democrat has enough spine to tell Joe Lieberman no.