November 18th, 2008
03:02 PM ET
6 years ago

Lieberman keeps powerful chairmanship post

Sen. Lieberman spoke with reporters after Senate Democrats met on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
Sen. Lieberman spoke with reporters after Senate Democrats met on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

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


Filed under: Joe Lieberman
soundoff (389 Responses)
  1. Michelle, PA

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Now that Joe keeps his chair, the people of CT will evaluate what he does with his "Second Chance" when the time comes. That will be one interesting re-election bid.

    November 18, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. KLEE

    who said "politics make strange bed-fellows"?? guess this shows that another "wisdom" is correct.....who knows in the long run – these people know more than we do.....they work together...and need to put the country first...hopefully that is what is being done....

    November 18, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. kelly WI

    He got voted in as a Libertarian but causcuas with the dems. If they booted him out he would have caucaused with the Reps. The dems need his vote and wouldn't dare lose him.
    I see the Clintons and gang have got Obama in a box right where they want him so they will have the power. In other words the shadow presidentcy. Now, that Hillary has leaked her SOS spot, Obama can not give it to her. He admits he needs her advice. In other words he doesn't know anything and she'll tell him what to do.
    He is no more than a figure head for the 3rd Clinton Adm and their gang.
    If the Clinons couldn't get in by the front door they will come in the back.. All this so calle vetting of Bills getting rich off all those foreign countries is just a show. We all know how it will it turn out.
    There sure are a lot of naive people out there. Either that are just don't know how politics really work.

    November 18, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  4. Milhouse van Houten

    Heh,heh,heh.....Now I can find that Wascuwee Wabbit.

    November 18, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. Bill

    Teh Democrats are so desperate for a super majority that they keep this traitor on?
    They better watch their backs because Lie-berman will not hesitate to plunge in the knife if it is good for his career!

    November 18, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  6. The Red Man

    Well, they did something right: they didn't punish courage. I applaud them for it.

    November 18, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Agree with Keith in CA. Lieberman is more or less politically isolated and will most likely not be re-elected in 2012 – doubt many Dems will campaign for him. Obama looks forgiving and high-minded, Lieberman still sides with the Dems on most issues, and will soon be a footnote. Smart political move.

    November 18, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. Sydney Saidyan

    What a shame :-(

    I wonder when will these spineless DemocRATS grow some backbone and stand up for the very people who have worked tirelessly to vote them in.

    Though, as a proud independent voter, I am proud of my vote for President-elect Obama, yet I can’t stop feeling ashamed for donating to, and voting across the board for these weak-willed DemocRATS.

    They tricked us once again, as they did in 2006, when we gave them the majority only to watch them do NOTHING. They are the same do-nothing-cowards, with one major difference than their GOP (Greed Over Principal) counterparts; they are far more eloquent liars.

    Sydney Saidyan
    San Francisco, CA

    November 18, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Amy and Obama's Intelligence

    The naive always stand out from a crowd! Obama's intelligence does not suffice to guarantee that he cannot severely screw up and bring this country down to its knees. Intelligence does not guarantee sound governance or we would have scientists and nobel-laurates ruling the world. Sometimes common sense and experience are a better formula for success. As a matter of fact, if Obama was that intelligent, he would have allowed McCain to win and govern over these disastrous times and then he would have tried in 2012 when things have settled and he can more easily guarantee himself a second term.

    November 18, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. Turn Coat

    He will still get worked over by the Dems so don't worry, he will be held in check. Joe does not embrace the right wing social conservative wacko values anyway...... I think this is a good example of Obama staying way above the partisan fray....... good job!

    November 18, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. Vicki5

    The issue is not about whether or not people forgive Lieberman, it is about allowing the precedence to go un-checked. If there are no consequences, others won't be reluctant to follow his footsteps.

    November 18, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. Precious Coker, NY

    Only time will tell.

    The Dems want to be seen to be listening to their leader-President Obama.

    As for sleepy head Joe, only time will tell.

    November 18, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Yogi bala

    Shame on you.. Lier..

    November 18, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. Robert in raleigh

    He's a POS but the caucus needs his vote ....

    November 18, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Dem in Texas

    This is a smart move when trying to build unity. This is not the time to throw people under the bus, now is the time to build relationship. Joe is not important, he will now owe Obama, there will be bigger fish to fry, when making a tough example of someone will mean something. When that time comes, Obama will not hesitate, will not blink, he will bring the hammer down and bamb, he will make his point. But this is not the time and he will not start his administration with a heavy hand

    November 18, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Dang

    He has jowls as big as my boxer's

    November 18, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Femi

    Dont worry, lets keep Obama campain promise of unity, so that we can also bring so republican to our side for the crucial 60 votes we going to need most of the time to get our agenda through the senate. We are going to watch him like a hawk. And one thing is certain he is not coming back to the senate after 2010, because people of his state are waiting to regett him at the poll. And we are going to come up with a very strong candidate and spend our money to back that candidate up. This is the Democrat's plans. Mr lame duck chairman Joe will soon be Another Zeil Miller. Never to be hard from again.

    November 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. bruce

    joe is an independant that caucusus with the demorcrats, he was pushed out of his party, why because of all the pin headed dems that were mad because he thought bush was doing a goood job, well i think here in america you have freedom of choice, speech, religion, am i wrong ? joes a good guy i like him and i think they did it right. look they need joe to help them keep an even wider margin in the senate so they know what thier doing, all politics all the time, it's a big wonderful game :)

    November 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. Thaedoms

    Unthinkable! Those who voted for him should tell us why he's allowed to keep his chair.

    November 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. VicNcolorado

    u see? u folks are still prone to high school clic behaviors....Dont any of u understand that its not his team or her team, its everyones team u clowns. speak your piece Joe. the high school clic is on its way out, it starts with the new man, Obama the right choice for change!
    Change is coming folks and thats NOT just repukecon change thats change behavior-wise for all! Everyones a team player even McCant!

    November 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. COL

    Wait a minute... we all squawked that under a democratic process, we should be allowed to disagree without retribution. Yes, it was an enormous and egregious difference (and I hope the people of Conn. hold him responsible), but if he is the best person for this post, he should keep it. THIS is what we wanted from an Obama administration.

    November 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. Fernando F.

    Lieberman is supporting attacks on Iran. Of course... Iran is a threat to Israel, not to the US. Israel wants to use the US to do their dirty work. If Lieberman keeps his job, he would have a huge influence in these kind of decisions.

    This is disgusting!!!
    Apparently CHANGE hasn't arrive to the Senate.
    Everything seems all-white now....

    November 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Arlene, Illinois

    I don't know who I despise the most seeing on TV Joe Lieberman

    or Sarah Palin.

    November 18, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    This is a political move, because if the Democrats are successful in captuirng the recount states in the Senate, then Lieberman's vote becomes important. It makes him the most powerful man in the Senate, if they expect to get his guaranteed vote in the Senate.

    Come the next election cycle in CT, the voters should send a message!!!

    November 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. Vivian M. Stephenson

    Reid is a spineless leader ready to trade treason, insults and humiliation for ONE vote. Let Lieberman go to the other side where he belongs, and let's elect a new leader for the Senate.

    November 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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