WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Joe Lieberman retained his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Tuesday following a lengthy and often heated debate over what - if any - price the Connecticut Democrat-turned-Independent should pay for his vocal support of Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential bid.
The Senate Democratic caucus, meeting behind closed doors, voted 42 to 13 to allow Lieberman to keep the high-profile chairmanship. The party's 2000 vice presidential nominee was instead stripped of his spot on the Environment and Public Works Committee.
"It's all over with," Majority Leader Harry Reid said at a news conference following the vote. "Joe Lieberman is a Democrat. He's part of this caucus."
Reid dismissed vehement criticism of the decision from elements of the party's more liberal base, which has insisted that Lieberman be punished for failing to support President-elect Barack Obama's campaign.
Reid instead argued that this is "not a time for retribution. It's a time for moving forward on the problems of this country... We need to be unified."
"I would defy anyone to be more angry than I was," Reid noted. "There's a period of time in Joe Lieberman's political career that I will never understand or approve. But I also recognize that.... (he is) one of the most progressive members to come from the state of Connecticut and that says a lot."
Reid also pointed out that that the Democrats could not have had a Senate majority during the past two years without Lieberman's decision to remain in the party caucus.
Speaking at the same press conference, Lieberman called the resolution allowing him to keep the Homeland Security chairmanship "fair and forward leaning."
"It's a resolution... of reconciliation and not retribution, and I appreciate it," he noted.
Lieberman said that a number of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate were moved by an appeal from Obama himself that "the nation now unite to confront our very serious problems.... This is all about going forward."
Lieberman broke with his party over the war in Iraq and ran as an independent after losing the party's Connecticut Senate nomination in 2006.
He was a fixture on the campaign trail with Sen. McCain.
– CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash contributed to this report
I am very disappointed.
Joe is an ally of Hillary, and the Clintons are already firmly in control of the Obama administration. Dems should have gone ahead and elected Hillary to be POTUS instead of having her be the POTUS behind the scenes.
Now THAT'S CHANGE.
Besides, doesn't anyone see the political genius in this move? Now Joe owes the caucus a favor for letting him keep his powerful chairmanship. He'll be more in line than ever before. Favors like this don't come for free. The caucus now owns JL. Cheers to that!
This Connecticut girl is voting him out next time! Hopefully, Rep. Chris Murphy will run against him. I am completely sick of him.
I live in Ct and I will vote for him.
Like Joe I vote for the best man for the job
I will not vote for Dodd
Lieberman was for the Iraq war, for torture, for the patriot act, for McClain. How can he still be called a Democrat didn't he resign the party a long time ago.Aren't this all the issues that President Elect Obama run against.
Lieberman is a Judas who doesn't deserve to hold any clout in the Democratic party.
the "Lieberweasel" will come back to bite Obama and the Democrates. it's a HUGE mistake not to throw him out of the caucus and remove him from the Homeland Security chairmanship.
this is a man that LIED to the voters of Connecticut and has proved he CAN NOT be TRUSTED.
Another failure of the leadership within the Democratic party.
he should be fired from all committees....he is not one of us...I think we call that a trader.....he looks like Barney Fifh
Well cheer up Joe, 66% of CT residents say they won't vote to re-elect you. Better get to work cause your days are numbered!
For those more liberal of the Democratic party, I say, "Shame on you1" Lieberman is probably the only member of the Senate that dares to act on what he believes to be best for the country. If there were more Democrats who were willing to see the Republican side of an issue, and vice versa, maybe this country would be able to move forward on the issues of importance to the country.
We need a movement toward the middle from both the right and the left to get the things done for our country that need doing in this challenging time.
What a farce!!! Maybe Joe think's it's over but we here in Connecicut won't forget. If his buddies in the Senate have no backbone, that's fine. But we do. So long Joe it's been nice knowing you!! Maybe you could run in Arizona with your buddy John.