Sen. Al Franken says he had no choice but to shut down fellow Sen. Joe Lieberman today.
Franken was presiding over the chamber when Lieberman asked for additional time to finish his speech. It's a routine request in the Senate, but one Franken denied. Franken then came under criticism from Senator John McCain.
Franken says he wasn't trying to slight Lieberman and in fact supports the amendment to the health care bill Lieberman was discussing.
"I agreed with every word he said for the entire 10 minutes, and I think he probably only had maybe 30 seconds left," he said. "He didn't take it personally at all."
Franken says Majority leader Harry Reid ordered all senators who presided today to keep speeches to their ten minute limits and not grant any extensions.
"Usually you're allowed to do this and, just, today we were told not to let it happen because there's been some attempt to string out the debate," Franken said. "So, I really just had no choice."
Lieberman currently is the target of liberal wrath over his opposition to a government-run insurance plan in the health care bill. Franken insists that had nothing to do with his action.
The Minnesota Republican Party said Franken's "petty and petulant behavior" is an embarrassment to the state.