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. Courtney H

    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.

    November 18, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. Jerk!

    Sorry the Dems were so wussy against this loser –

    Luckily he's got an election coming up in 2 years – I'll be donating to his opponent

    November 18, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Jared

    I'm one of the liberal members of the Democratic Party and I wanted you OUT – out of the Party, out of the caucus and stripped of your chairmanships.

    Good luck getting re-elected in CT next time you're up, because you are going to LOSE. You really think CT voters are going to re-elect you when the state went completely blue in this last election?

    November 18, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. Kimberly In AZ

    UNREAL! This man is a traitor, and should be OUT ON HIS A$$! If a repuke in congress or the senate had done this to Mccain they would waste NO time in kicking his butt out! I am so SICK of the Democrats NOT doing what they should do. They have no spine at this point! They should have impeached bush, and DIDNT! They got IN office most of them with us thinking they would. Now they allow this SCUM to stay in, shame on the dems!

    November 18, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. Joyce

    PLEASE CONNECTICUT – GET RID OF LIEBERMAN PERIOD! Don't ever vote his in office again – independent or whathaveyou.

    November 18, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. happy thanksgiving

    but someone please tell me WHY?

    November 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. beevee

    I hope Lieberman repents for what he said of Obama during the campaign. If he unrepentent then he does not deserve to be forgiven.

    November 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Paul

    Let's hope the people of CT vote this bum out of office.

    November 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Mike from Texas

    So much for accountability in Washington. The democrates fail to hold "two face" Lieberman accountable because they need his vote. Another example of the "wrong" kind of people being elected into government office. When will people stop sending these pathological liers, like Lieberman, to washington ?

    November 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. Rachel

    Well, I guess you can be anything you want at anytime and all is forgiven. Also, all's fair in love and war I suppose. Wonder how long Joe will straddle the fence. I guess until he either falls off or he has another chance to grand stand! Don't look for honesty from him.

    November 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Postpartisan era begins in 3...2...1...

    Say it is so Joe.


    November 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. DG

    People can say what they want but I don't think Lieberman will ever again be the respected Senator he once was. He has to walk into that chamber knowing how disliked he is by all the other members. That's a hard pill to swallow.

    November 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. Marc

    I can't stand the site of Joe Lieberman. He is a fake and a phony and wants our U.S. Troops to stay in Iraq and spend billions and for what!

    Lieberman........Worst Senator in America.

    November 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. Bryn Davies

    Allowing Lieberman to keep his position isn't unlike reaching across the isle to Republicans. He'll never again be regarded as a true-blue Democrat. My lasting image of him is being joined at the hip to McCain at countless rallies. He was more omnipresent than Cindy. Shame on you Joe Lieberman!

    November 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Dave

    It may be naive, but I think this is the beginning of Obama's tone of bipartisanship and doing what's best for the country. Let's hope he and the Democrats keep this up. Maybe the Republicans will see that their hate-and-divide approach to politics just doesn't work anymore.

    November 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. p davis

    Wisdom is what is needed, kicking him out makes him a marter letting him stay speaks volumes to the integrity of the new administration.

    November 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. tedious898

    Lieberman....I can't believe I voted for this guy to be VP. What a loser! Well, we have to have a court jester – Right?

    November 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. Greg

    So, Lieberman didn't support the Democrats this election cycle because they supported the candidate for the Democratic Party in his Senate race, and then he threatens to caucus with the Republicans if he loses his chairmanship, despite no longer being a Democrat. There's principles for ya.

    November 18, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. David Barch

    Wow. Nothing says "business as usual" than this continuation of the Washington culture of a lack of accountability. What a disappointment.

    November 18, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. Reggie Noel

    Loyalty cannot be bought and can only be expressed by those who understand the significance of such iimportant attribute. Lieberman is a "RAT" who would not hesitate in selling out anyone to include his mother. For the Democrats to bend over and reward his behavior with a simple slap on the wrist is very insulting. As an independent who voted for the democratic party, I am very disappointed. Frankly, these democrats are spineless.

    November 18, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. AEK

    Hmmmm... curious. Although President-elect Obama was apparently in favor of allowing Senator Lieberman to keep his committee positions, I can't deny that I was hoping that the Democratic leadership would break out the 'stention cord. The comments he made during the campaign were way over the top even in a hotly contested and nasty one. We'll see how this plays out when the voting starts.

    November 18, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  22. Greggy V

    Sad, Sad, Sad...

    This is the kind of person that has no place in the Democratic Party, none whatsoever...

    He will not survive another election cycle.

    November 18, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Muammar Reed

    I can't believe they let that turncoat keep his position. He was an ex-vice presidential nominee for the Dems and he supports McCain. He committed political suicide and during a landslide election and the Dems resurrected him from the dead.

    November 18, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Vickie

    I am told many times in business that you want to keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. Personally I don't believe this... Maybe this is why not only our world but our politics are so messed up! Libermann was flat out wrong, he was misguided and is only playing the game Washington allows him to just to keep a position. In the real world most of us could never get away with that in our jobs, positions or careers!

    November 18, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. David Newport, OR

    The Democrats have no leadership...this will come back to haunt them because it is perceived as more of the same politics. Wanna take bets about what happens in 2010 when the Democratic leadership fails once again to get anything accomplished? No solution to the real problems.

    November 18, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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