Healthcare critic Lieberman silenced in Senate
Senator Joe Lieberman, who has forced Democrats to jump through hoops on healthcare reform in recent weeks, was effectively told to be quiet and sit down on Thursday.
Comedian turned freshman Senator Al Franken gave the order while presiding over the Senate to a surprised Lieberman.
“I object,” Franken said, denying Lieberman the unanimous consent that he needed for “an additional moment” to complete his floor speech on healthcare.
“Really? Okay,” Lieberman told Franken sheepishly. “I don’t take it personally.”
Unanimous consent is routinely given to senators so that they can have a few more minutes to wrap up their remarks. But many Democrats have apparently wanted to tell Lieberman to hush in recent weeks.
That’s because the former Democrat turned independent has repeatedly forced them to change a healthcare bill to conform with his wishes.
Democrats need Lieberman’s vote to get to the 60 required to clear Republican procedural roadblocks and pass major healthcare legislation designed to bring down costs and provide insurance to millions of Americans.
Lieberman has said he favors overhauling healthcare, but he and others have made Democrats drop a number of provisions favored by their liberal base.
The biggest was a proposed government insurance program to compete with private insurers. Another was a call to expand the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly to those ages 55 to 64. Medicare is now for those 65 and older.
Lieberman has also riled liberal groups, including MoveOn.org, which announced on Thursday it has raised $1 million to fund a campaign against him and to oppose the senator if he runs for a fifth term in 2012.
“Joe Lieberman’s behavior over the last few weeks has been outrageous,” MoveOn.org wrote in a fundraising letter to members. “But too many people still don’t realize how destructive Lieberman has been to the cause of health care reform.”
Photo credit: Reuters/stringer (Lieberman walking in U.S. Capitol)