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McCain Objects to Cutting Off Lieberman in Health Debate

In an unusual move on Thursday, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) cut off Sen. Joe Lieberman's remarks on the Senate floor -- a move that flabbergasted their Republican colleague Sen. John McCain.

Franken was serving as the Senate's presiding officer on Thursday when Lieberman, speaking about the amendments he intended to offer to the Democrats' health care bill, reached his 10-minute speaking limit. Lieberman asked for an "additional moment" to finish his thoughts, a request that is nearly always granted in the Senate.

"In my capacity as senator from Minnesota, I object," Franken said with a slight shrug.

"Really?" Lieberman said, and realizing Franken was serious, added, "Ok, I don't take it personally."

At that, McCain jumped in, commenting that this was the first time he had seen a senator denied an extra minute or two to finish his remarks.

"I must say that I don't know what's happening here in this body, but I think it's wrong,'' McCain said.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) then commented that the same thing happened earlier in the day -- Franken was not bullying Lieberman, as McCain may have thought. In fact, CBS News Capitol Hill Producer John Nolen reports, Senate leadership asked the presiding officers to deny any requests for extended speaking time in order to maintain order, and so that no senator would have an unfair speaking advantage.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was also denied extra speaking time today when Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) was presiding over the Senate.