November 18th, 2008
03:02 PM ET
5 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. Krystal in OK

    That's okay. From what I've been hearing, folks in Connecticut will probably punish him themselves when he's up for re-election in 2012. The polls reported last night that 66% are unhappy with the job he's doing and a majority would vote to replace him in the Senate. So long, Joe!

    November 18, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. wait a minute

    Senator Lieberman is a courageous man to speak up against the party. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has become similar to the GOP in that if you don't agree with the party, you are out. That's why partisan politics is bad for our country and our people. These elected officials should have the people's benefits at heart, not the party's.

    November 18, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. Obama08 but...

    boo! traitor, who is going to listen to this guy now?

    November 18, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. California Gold

    He has to give up chairing a subcommittee that is populated with newbies. Think there should have been a steeper price. Then again the halls of Congress are probably pretty frosty these days for Lieberman and his approval rating in his home state is in the toilet. Certain symmetry there....

    November 18, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. Reality

    Dear Mr. Leiberman,

    Bravo for successfully maneuvering around Reid, Leahy, and Pelosi despite overwhelming opposition from the media. This accomplishment further demonstrates your outstanding political savvy.

    Bravo for standing up for your convictions and putting what you believed was best for the country ahead of partisan politics.

    From,
    An Informed Moderate Independent

    November 18, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. clean up washington

    Is this change?

    November 18, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. ewj

    Democrat party big tent -keep Lieberman. versus republican big tent keep Stevens.

    I rather have a 40% democrat than a 100% felon.

    November 18, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. S. Boatman Warrensburg, Mo.

    Why?

    November 18, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. Abby

    yes, we will wait until the election to kick him out. No need to have him caucus with the Republicans in the mean time. And keep in mind, if he even wants a slim chance of ever being reelected in Liberal Connecticut, he will have to be such a loyal Obama enforcer in the Senate and be vocal about it…Even then, he’s as sure as gone. Don’t fret over the small stuff, Liberals…We have bigger agendas!

    November 18, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. Uncle Fester

    Joe the Bummer

    November 18, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. Daniel

    Would it be to much to ask that he actually DOES HIS JOB as chairman of Homeland Security???? He has been shirking his duties during the Bush years.

    November 18, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  12. Jill, MD

    Shameful, he was such a rat.

    November 18, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  13. MILDRED

    WOW, MY HATS OFF TO THE DEMS! JUST MAKE SURE YOU GUYS KEEP A CLOSE EYE THIS GUY, HE CAN NOT BE TRUSTED, HE'S ALREADY PROVEN THIS. HE MAY BE WORKING COVERTLY FOR THE GOP. PLEASE BE CAREFUL OF THIS GUY.

    November 18, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. FreeNLovIt

    It's not playing quite as well, however, in some precincts of Obamaland. From his supporters on the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, to campaign aides of the soon-to-be commander-in-chief, there's a sense of ambivalence about giving a top political plum to a woman they spent 18 months hammering as the compromised standard-bearer of an era that deserves to be forgotten.

    FYI, IF hILLARY becomes the Secretary, this will add to National Security. This means, international world leaders are not going to try to take ADVANTAGE of Obama and ruin thiscountry. They will think twice before they act!! Hillary PLEASE SAVE OBAMA and this country...

    November 18, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  15. Feather

    At the end of the day, Dems couldn't stand up to LIEberman.

    November 18, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. DickNH

    I see that CT has no provision to recall the "traitor".....that's too bad !!

    November 18, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. MATT WILL, W-S N.C.

    How could they let that low life, Kermit The Fog, two faced, loser Joe Dummy Lieberman off that easy. I would not trust him. I'm black and I have more faith in the KKK not hurting me, if I was along with them in a hate rally, than I have in Joe Lieberman being faithful to the Democrated party.

    November 18, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. Deon, MD

    As long as he's kept on a tight leash. I think the Dems should question everything this leach does. And I mean everything. He's a pariah in the Senate.

    November 18, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. Barbara

    Same old Democratic wimps; and I guess rewarding Hillary is next. Politics as usual is not the answer.

    November 18, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. Nada

    This is a mistake...
    There should be accountability for such actions
    Democrats are week

    November 18, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  21. Jon

    Realistically there's only so much the Democratic Party can do. I agree, I don't think the chair of Homeland Security should be so pro-Israel; it greatly hurt OUR country.

    November 18, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. bill

    What a bunch of spineless Senators.. It makes me sick to be a democrat. Infers that President elect Obama is a Marxist and hates the troops and he gets no punishment.. Spineless democrats

    November 18, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. J

    He should be held accountable for letting the Bush administration run wild and for his obviously turning his back on the Democrats. There had better be something else going on to keep this guy in check and under control.

    November 18, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  24. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA

    Too bad. Now its up to Connecticut to throw the bum, Lieberman OUT!

    November 18, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  25. Rob

    its good to see that not all democrats believe in punishment for voicing an opinion. California would do good to follow.

    November 18, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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