November 18th, 2008
03:02 PM ET
14 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. J.P.

    Shame on you, Joe, for having the "audacity" to think for yourself in a political party that values and demands "diversity" of all things... except thought.

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

    Liberman should have been forced out and I do not know how he can call himself a democrat or a human being for that matter. Maybe he could be a staffer for John McCain.........

    November 18, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. Johnny V

    Lieberman is still there due completely to the mercy rendered to him by Obama, who gave the order to keep him on. Hopefully Joe the Snake won't betray that kindness.

    November 18, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. Diana Ewing NJ

    He may have kept his position but he has lost the respect of millions of Americans. Guess he thought it was worth it.

    November 18, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. NC Independent

    Dems have no guts and as other have mentioned, they have sold out for a vote. This has nothing to do with liberals. I am one and I want to see him kicked out on the curb. Such a shame.

    November 18, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. Big Wally

    Yeah...he's in this caucus until the next time he decides to hedge his bets with conservatives in CT. What a weasel!!!

    November 18, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. Grog in Ohio

    Ladies and gentlemen of the Senate... We're gonna need to see more backbone than this over the next few years.

    63 days till the end of the Bush administration.

    November 18, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. Shirley, Silicon Valley, CA

    What a lousy decision! There is no principles! A traitor gets rewarded by blackmailable Dems!

    I am disgused! I started to wonder about what else Dems can give in????

    November 18, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Vetch

    Dracula lives!

    November 18, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. Mike

    god forbid you be allowed to speak your mind Joe.

    November 18, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. Kevin - IN

    I'm happy with the decision. While I thought his comments about Obama were bone headed... he should be allowed to voice his opinion. It's just an opinion after all.

    The last thing we need is a political culture where people are too scared to say something unpopular ... that's what Bush created.

    November 18, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. Tulsa

    lol.... For all those "Democrats are weak" commenters...

    We have kicked your butts all over the place, so what does that make you?
    ...and if you haven't noticed, Lieberman still votes with the Democrats by a huge percentage on social issues and the economy. The war in Iraq is going to wind down and Obama's commited to finally doing what should have been done in Afghanistan, which Lieberman is on-board with also. So ol' Joe picked the wrong candidate to hitch onto.... so what? He's a consistant vote on the Democratic side.

    Looks to me like the "weak" ones are the Republicans. They are the ones knifing each other in the back.

    November 18, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Greg in Lawrence, KS

    Good. Retribution only leads to more retribution, and our politics should not be based on battle over the disparate parts of our ideologies. We should be finding common ground. Joe's retention in the caucus is a great example of the right kind of politics.

    As the man says, we need to disagree without being disagreeable. Things really are changing for the better.

    November 18, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. Unshrub

    Would Bush and the republicans have been as forgiving as the Democrats and Obama have been with Lieberman? I don't think so.

    November 18, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. AJ

    What folk forget is that Obama plays pick up basketball. You get pushed and shoved, elbowed and hit. Then, when the contest is over, everyone shakes hands and moves on; that's not golf or bowling, where you don't even have to look at your competitor. He knows how to fight to win and then leave it (the dirt of war) on the court. That's the root from which a spirit of reconciliation is grown. Politics is a game that is played on many fronts but it can be played fairly and civilly... as well as cleverly. Joe is valuable to the Dems ... lest we forget.

    November 18, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Larry, Hazleton, Pa

    I am a life long democrat and will always be – with that said – I am now ready to vote my own party out – This is nonsense Leiberman is worse than a turncoat – He had the right to vote as he saw fit – but the public way he critized Mr Obama was totally out of bounds – He does not deserve to be part of the party any longer – I can only hope that the voters of Conn turn this man out in 2012 – as for the senate dems you are cowards – seems to me that we are already back to politics as usual. To bad I had high hopes –

    November 18, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. A Khan

    Very interesting. The real winner is Mr. Joe today. He enjoyed last 8 years by leaving the democrats & now again he will enjoy next 4 years as well even he was against the democrats. His comments against Obama & democrats was not acceptable.

    November 18, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. NoMcSame

    If Joe the snake is a Democrat send him down to Georgia to help Jim Martin. He will not do it because he snake is all about Israel and that is it. They should have sent him packing. The people of CONN will take care of him. The people will speak and kick the snake out if they won't do it.

    November 18, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Robert

    Dems are such WHIMPS!

    November 18, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. P McG

    What a crock! Dems have no guts. The man should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.

    November 18, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. JTBW

    Lie Berman is an independent, so he can throw his votes whichever way he sees fit. Lets hope there aren't too many GOP filibusters that require him to cast the deciding vote.

    Now on with the country's business at hand. Let's get behind our newly elected president. Let's do our part and everyone will be successful.

    November 18, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. parker


    November 18, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. nate

    Dont you get it folks??? Appointing Hillary, working w/ McCain, even pardoning Lieberman : It isnt about punishment. Its about working TOGETHER and helping Americans to have better lives and futures. Stop complaining and get with the program!

    November 18, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. B.Robertson

    I could not agree more, I respect Mr Lieberman for what he has done and continues to do. He shows that he is not just a one party person who follows the leader rather than respect others wishes. Too bad there are not more in office that do. This country needs leaders to help the country out of this difficult time, to cross party lines and help the population of this great country.

    November 18, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. Monica

    I hope the Obama team has a plan for this jerk. If not, who will be the next person to disrespect Obama and still hold a high position. This is unbelievable. Why doesn't Lieberman just go with the Republicans and be done with it. Any back stabbing he does in the future will serve the Dems right for being so whimpy....

    November 18, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
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