November 6th, 2008
04:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Lieberman pondering 'options' after Reid meeting

Lieberman met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Thursday.
Lieberman met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Thursday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Connecticut independent Sen. Joe Lieberman said Thursday he needs a few days to ponder "the options that I have before me" after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Lieberman did not explain what those options were when he made brief remarks to reporters, and Reid said afterward that no decisions have been made.

Watch: 'We must unite' Lieberman says

Lieberman, the Democratic Party's 2000 vice presidential nominee, supported Republican Sen. John McCain in Tuesday's presidential election. But after Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's victory over McCain, the Connecticut senator said it was time to unite behind the incoming president.

"I decided in that election that partisanship should take a back seat to doing what I believed was best for our country," he said. "But the election is over, and I completely agree with President-elect Obama that we must now unite to get the economy going again and keep the American people safe."

Lieberman's continued allegiance to the Democratic caucus has given the party a 51-49 majority in the Senate since 2006, and he holds the chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. But his support of McCain - and sometimes-harsh criticism of Obama - angered many of his colleagues.

Updated with Reid statement

When Obama returned to the Senate in June after clinching the Democratic presidential nomination, he pulled Lieberman into a corner of the Senate chamber for a lengthy and animated one-on-one conversation in full view but out of earshot of reporters.

Lieberman has been an outspoken supporter of the war in Iraq, backing the Bush administration at a time when the Democratic leadership in Congress has been trying to force an end to the widely unpopular conflict. He lost his home state's Democratic primary to an anti-war challenger in 2006, only to win a fourth Senate term as an independent.

Reid, D-Nevada, was reluctant to act against Lieberman when his control of the chamber relied on the Connecticut senator's vote. But a top aide to the majority leader told reporters in September, after Lieberman spoke to the Republican National Convention, that the caucus would "reassess the situation"
after the election.

With Democrats gaining at least five seats on Tuesday, Reid summoned Lieberman to discuss his future with the caucus. In a statement issued after the meeting, Reid said Thursday's meeting was "the first of what I expect to be several conversations."

"While I understand that Senator Lieberman has voted with Democrats a majority of the time, his comments and actions have raised serious concerns among many in our caucus," he said. "I expect there to be additional discussions in the days to come, and Senator Lieberman and I will speak to our
caucus in two weeks to discuss further steps."

Reid could move to strip Lieberman of his committee chairmanship or other committee seats. The full Democratic caucus would have to approve any action when it meets again in two weeks.

Lieberman said he had "a very good conversation" with Reid, but disclosed no details and took no questions.

"I want to spend some time in the next few days thinking about what Sen. Reid and I discussed and what my options are at this point," he said. "He promised me that he would do the same, and we will continue these conversations."


Filed under: Joe Lieberman
soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. Peggy the Unemployed

    Joe Lieberman apparently didn't hurt Barack Obama, and he is an independent, so he has the right to support whomever he wants. Is he any different from the many Republicans (Colin Powell?), who crossed party lines to support our new President. You people who want to tar and feather him need to go back and re-read Obama's acceptance speech.

    November 6, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. Ann Bagley

    Reid needs to retire or needs a boot out. Liebermann is twice the man Reid is or ever will be.

    November 6, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. Patrice, CT

    Joe the Disgruntled! The Republicans can have him increase their number. I supported Lieberman when he ran for his seat as an Independent, but don't approve of his attacks on the Dem party.

    November 6, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. Ibsaa Dhugasaa

    I think it an over due issue, Sen. Joe Lieberman, should leave and join deafeted party. should live in Alaska where he could not be heard like P.

    November 6, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Craig the independent

    Vivian Beals

    It's spelled "loser" not "looser".

    November 6, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Northwest Washington

    Joe made all of his own decissions knowing what the consequences would be if John McCain lost. This is a no brainer. He should lose his chairmanships and attend the Republican caucuses.

    November 6, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. blue in a red state

    I know not very many like him, and who could blame anyone for that, but the worst thing you can do to a sitting Senator is to let him vote with the dems. but take all of his chairman seats away, then he won't be any good to Conn. and will hold no sway with anyone, then they will vote him out and get a real dem. in

    November 6, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. Denise Bolin

    Lieberman has the right to support his friend of another party. That's exactly the spirit of bipartisanship we DO need.

    November 6, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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