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
Funny that they vote by secret ballot but they want to change the union voting to eliminate secret ballot.
I'm happy for Obama that he isn't part of this despicable vote. However, I'm sure he would have loved to have his day voting against this turncoat. I will give them one thing, the Dems are a forgiving bunch. Droopy still has a job. Unreal.
GA for Obama,
Both the Senate and House of Representatives are part of congress. Therefore they are all Congressmen and Congresswomen. I just wanted to clarify that.
How sad. The Senate Democrats tell the rest of the world, "Feel free to dump on our President; we won't stand up for him."
"How dare he go against his party! They should set him as an example of what happens when you try to do what you think is best and not just for the party. I'm mortified."
Yeah Iraq has been a whopping success.
Lieberman will not be reelected to the Senate – that much is certain!
I predict a record turnout of voters to knock him out of the Senate at the earliest opportunity! :)
Thank goodness for men like Joe Lieberman. We should all respect a man that votes his conscience and not just because of his party affiliation. This is still a free country, at least for the time being and no one should tell another how to vote.
Very, very disappointing. I guess the "world's exclusive club" mentality trumps justice. The democratic caucus should be ashamed of themselves. I just hope the people of Connecticut will give the swine his walking papers in four years.
Which loyal Senate Democrat who did not try to make the country afraid of our new President lost out on the opportunity to be a committee chairman because slimy Joe was allowed to keep his seat?
This is a disgrace! Once again the Democratic party is afraid of their own shadow. Lieberman will betray us again.
This is b.s......He his no longer a democrat, why shouldn't a democrat be leading the commitee.....
If you dems really want to get rid of someone, get rid of Pelosi......
He should have been kicked out of the Senate, the man is a turncoat, he goes where ever the wind blows. How can anyone possibly trust anyone like that? If you knew someone like that would you keep him as a friend?
I want to make sure I understand?? Joe Leibermann gets to keep his committee chairmanship after campaigning for the Republicans, but the Clintons are being vetted, and vetted. I think everyone should be checked, but "COME ON"
Barak Obama is still going to a very young man in 8 years. He is setting the standards for how he, and his family, and staff will be vetted in their next ventureS.
Obama, and his team should make sure they treat the Clintons in a way they can live with when the tables are turned.
Shame! Shame! Traitor to his party and to his country.
No, Lieberman is not basically Republican. He is an Independent who most of the time votes the Democratic party line. He endorsed the Republican candidate because he thought that candidate was the best choice? Since when is that a crime? Get your facts straight.
spineless senate dems as usual, at least we have Obama
I actually think Reid needs to go as well. He has been worthless as majority leader and this should be the final nail in his coffin!!!
I hope Obama has a cabinet position for Joe.
I know – how about making him "Joe the Plumber" and his primary responsibility would be to unclog the toilets across the nation!
Since he can talk the talk, it's time for Joe to walk the walk!
This will be national humility for Joe! :)
Welcome to Oz
Harry Reid: the cowardly lion
Nancy Pelosi: the scarecrow with no brain
Barney Franks: the tin man with no heart
The Clintons: Dorthy and Toto
Obama: the man behind the curtains..
Good for them. It seems dems have gotten the message. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT TOLORATE BICKERING AND EXCESSIVE INFIGHTING. Either sit down and come up with ways to help get us out of this mess or you will be thrown out. Republican seem not to have learned much (with the attacks on McCain and Huckabee's rantings).
I am confident the people of Connecticut will do the job where Senate leadership failed.
You can't have a chairman who is putting his country in jeorpardy by this behavior.
Well this shows to American people how powerful the Jewish lobby is when they are only few %age of population of USA and they hold control the most important posts in American Govt. Laughable.
This is why the Dems are such LOOSERS! How about getting a backbone and kicking the bum out!
I know a lot of people would have been emotionally satisfied by removing Lieberman, and he definitely went over the line with his comments during the campaign...but all this carping about traitors and such is ridiculous. Many here sound exactly like the right-wing Republicans. Seeking vengeance for disloyalty to the party; demanding strict orthodoxy to the platform. Putting politics first.
Obama is living by the words he spoke during the campaign. If you wanted a slash and burn, do and say anything to kill the enemy politics, you should have nominated Hillary or Edwards. Obama has always been about enlarging his coalition and using various tools to establish power. Now, Lieberman owes him big time and is another vote in the check book.
Lefties have always had so many suggestions and hysterics for the way Obama handled his campaign, and they were all proven wrong. The man appears to know what he is doing, and I will give him the benefit of the doubt unless events prove otherwise.