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

Lieberman keeps powerful chairmanship post

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. 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 |
  2. James

    Joe was elected as an independent not a Dem therefore all he did was go with the man who he felt was best for the job. Any rational person can understand this!

    November 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  3. mayah

    make your enemies your footstool....

    November 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. usualone

    The Democrats must not have confidence that they can win support from any Republicans that they are keeping him on board. As a life-long Democrat, I think the way he supported Mr. McCain was not appreciated the way he handled it. His support for Mr. McCain was too visible. ..and not productive. ... just divisive. Why do they think he will go along with their wishes; he will always be a thorn in the side of Democrats.

    November 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Bil

    Joe is a creep, discussting , and ugly, just as Algor. How could Algore select him as his VP. Well, glad that Algore did not win, so we did not have to see Joe ugly face for the past 8 years.

    November 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. Tired of petty squables

    I'm guessing most of the irate people here voted for Obama, whose message of postpartisanship was a large appeal for many voters. The fact is that this postpartisanship Obama espoused for wasn't quite as difficult for him as he didn't have anything invested in the old Washington battles. Lieberman offers one of the most personal forms of disagreement, and also one of the most punishable, that I was happy to see Obama stay true to his word. Democratic Senators are following Obama's wishes, are you pissed at Obama?

    November 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Sean

    Too bad. Bad pilitical and moral move by the democrats in the senate. It means the poor judgement of senators who voted to keep him for that position and it will cost them in the next General election.

    November 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Angela

    At least a conscientious, ingenous independant democrat above party politics in control of the committees of homeland security and government affairs averts the heinous treat of a single party state.
    National state security won`t overcome democracy.

    November 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. Rochelle

    This Judus is not worth the time or effort. I wish that there was some way that the Dems could let him go over to the Republicans and place someone in his place that is trustworthy and honest and truthful.
    This man is a turn coat and a lier and can't be trusted for nothing.

    November 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. Danny, San Antonio

    This is just wrong. Joe should be shown the door. What he did could have cost the election, and now he gets rewarded??? Should'nt a competent Senator have been given this chairmanship?

    November 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Los

    No, this is good. Now the Dems have unrestricted arm-twisting privileges when it comes to Joe Lieberman, rather than the other way around.

    November 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Obama Knows

    Obama knows what he is doing. Lieberman now owes Obama and knows that if he votes against the Dems, he's gone. In addition, if Lieberman was kicked out now, the Republicans would take back control of the Senate between now and the turnover in January. Who knows what Bush and the Senate republicans would try to do in the interim.

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. That's also why Obama's going to make Hillary the Secretary of State. By forcing potential dissenters to become invested in his administration's success, Obama makes that success all the more likely....

    November 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Gary Bonner, Baltimore Maryland

    OK. It is now confirmed. The Democrats are still weak and the Democrats still stand for NOTHING. This is not change I can believe in.

    November 18, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Lynn in NM

    Guess the Dems must have been afraid he would go to the Republicans. That would hurt their guaranteed votes.

    November 18, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. roy

    First off liberman is an independent not a dem so all of you please get your facts straight. I had no problem with Liberman suporting McCain, what I did have a problem with was the fact that he perportrated the belief that Obama was anti american. Time and again he stood behind McCain nodding his head in agreement as McCain spouted all that divisive dribel trying to decieve the american people. For that and that alone he and Mccain should be held accountable.

    November 18, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. Boytjie

    That's too bad. But I guess it shows that Democrats aren't as nasty as the Republicans can be.

    November 18, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Tommy1

    Need to keep him on ice until we find out if the Dems might end up with 59. As soon as we find out we can't make it (59) cut his legs off.

    November 18, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Phil-Little Rock

    Ross is right.........Harry Reid is as spineless as they come...........

    November 18, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. paul (staunch Moderate)

    Abby November 18th, 2008 12:37 pm ET

    Is that 42-13. or 32-13? the 42+3 would be 55 and there are not that many Dems in the Senate

    Abby – there were 51 for the Dems in the Senate: 49 Registered Democrats and 2 Independents.

    The 55 total MAY include newly elected Senators since Lieberman's committee chair would be continued into the 111th Congress seated on Jan 20th.

    November 18, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Joeblow

    Lieberman is scum

    November 18, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. Steve, New York, New York

    Lieberman – the biggest loser in Washington! It grieves me that I'll probably be forced to continue enduring his putrid face, whenever I turn on CNN.

    November 18, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. True Independent

    I regard myself as a Lieberman Democrat. He is the true "center" in this extremely partisan environment. Senator Lieberman is a principled Senator who stands for what is best for the United States of America. It was a very wise move of the Democratic Senators to keep him in this position, and it is important that the "healing" of this nation start after such a vicious and divisive campaign.

    November 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  23. Dee

    The Democrats are not stupid...keep him in the all have heard the saying "keep your friends close and your enemies closer"...they need him for his vote..that is all..he knows that...he is working with a cloud over his head...he is going to be used for what he is...a politician....

    November 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Carlo, Raleigh NC

    Well I'm not happy with Liberman either, frankly I think his national defence policies are out of line with the best interests onf this nation. His drive to first attack iraq and now iran by trying to declare the iranian republican guard a terrorist orginzation is quite simply a drailment of the war on terror and does not serve our nations best interests.

    Osama Bin Ladin is out there, and yet Liberman is content to let him be, planning his next attack on the US. We have braisen Somali pirates taking over SUPER TANKERS and because the bulk of our armed forces are in Iraq we are content to let them have it. None of this seems to bother Liberman, and that is something that should be bothering us all.

    All that said, Obama did get elected on the promise of change. There's no change greater on captol hill than that of allowing for forgiveness. I certainly hope that Liberman will change his views and policies now that it has become abundantly clear what the nation thinks of them.

    November 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  25. True Blue American

    He will get kicked out the next election. This is just getting the last vote blood they can.

    November 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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