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. Joseph, Los Angeles

    That's OK. CT will vote him out in 2 years.

    November 18, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  2. Doug R.

    Benedict Joe LIEberman will be out the door in 2010 and the Senate Democrats will have 60 to 70 seats, a filibuster proof majority.

    November 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. Tafari

    Wrong move but I think I understand the rationale. He needs to be watched!

    November 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. Hope

    Thats democracy, Im not happy with the outcome but its time to move on, we have bigger issues, health, energy, education, Social Security etc.

    November 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. tick...tock....

    All say they want a leader who does not always tow the party line. One man does not, and he is vilified. You are all hypocrites. I hope all you bloggers realize how out of the main stream you are.

    November 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. Helena

    Now they only need 2 of the three open Senate seats.

    November 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  7. Alaskan Fame Junkie

    I agree with Rob. Although I do believe that Leiberman is a total slime, he is entitled to have opinions and I think it's wise that the Dems allowed him to speak his mind without losing his job.

    November 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. Vicki5

    It certainly does not give me much hope that the Dems will be able to accomplish much if they cave in to this type of political pressure. What good does it do to keep Lieberman in that post?? I think Lieberman is a weasel and I believe he will ultimately harm the democrats. I hope he has consequences from his own consituency at some point, for crying out loud.

    November 18, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. Debra Austin, Texas

    I wouldn't have kept the creep but now that they have, I'd chill him out of about everything else. Watch him crawl and whine and then eventually recede in American history. But we have to wait until there is an election so that a Republican isn't put in his place. How the 'mighty' have fallen.

    November 18, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. just a thought

    don't like the man.

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

    OMG Democrats get some guts. If there is no accountability then how are you going to demand loyalty? I am so sickened by this. Democrats show some cutzpah for serious. (This is why I wanted every incumbent voted out. All of them no matter what party. I wanted Obama to win and have a completely new clean slate.)

    November 18, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |


    November 18, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  13. FL gal

    This appears to be another brilliant move by Dems to 'keep your friends close and your enemies even closer' in action.

    November 18, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. Justin from New Haven, CT

    Way to sell us out Democrats. Joe sucks. He should be recalled by a new amendment to the CT Constitution.

    November 18, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. Bryan in Indiana

    Truly hope this doesn't come back to bite the Dems. While I respect their willingness to forgive some of the despicable things Lieberman said during the campaign, we all know the "nice guy" routine rarely works out. Lieberman is a Republican calling himself a Democrat because Republicans in the northeast don't win elections.

    I respect what they're trying to do here, but watch your backs guys...there are a lot of folks in Washington who don't want unity.

    November 18, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. Ron , West Coast

    As we now see, these people all stick together, even though the majority of the democratic constituancy want Joe Lieberman to be stripped of his chairmanship to the homeland security agency.
    So much for democracy !!!!!

    November 18, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. Nathan,

    Who's going to go rogue next, since there are no consquences. If they had forced that idiot to join the Republicans Conn would have voted him out in the next election. The Democrats have just left a part of the Bush Administration in power.

    November 18, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. WhoCares?

    "Good job Democrats. Even the Messiah Obama said it's time to let by gones be by gones and move on! There is hope for my former political party yet!"

    Just stay Indenpendent. True Democrats don't need PUMA turncoats that betrayed Hillary's views for bitterness.

    November 18, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    Reid says he's been a good person for the Dem caucus. Obama says he wanted him to stay. So, it's not surprising that Lieberman survived.
    But, 2012 willl be here sooner than we know. Maybe he'll have been rehabilitated by then. But, if not, Conneticut will send him packing.
    He probably has a time share in Tel Aviv right now.

    November 18, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  20. Keith in CA

    The Democrats did the right thing. Voting him out of his position would have looked like petty retaliation for his support of McCain. That would have weakened the Democrats stance on bi-partisan cooperation in the Senate.

    When Lieberman comes up for re-election, the voters don't have to be so forgiving.

    November 18, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. rich

    Even traitors I see can be forgiven. Change we can believe in.

    November 18, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. dmh

    You want so hard to believe in the Dems, and then they go and prove how spineless they are. Way to go.

    November 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Wanda jones

    Looks like Liberman has the Democrates running scared. I wonder what he has on them. Stupid Dems don't all of you know you just handed that clown power over the all Democrates. I'm ashamed to be a Democrate because of the vote that was rendered. Hopefully Liberman's state will have the guts to do what is right that the Demoncrates couldn't do.

    November 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    He should feel lucky that he has kept something. I would be tempted to cut him off from everything. If Lieberman kept silent or didn't speak at the RNC, then I would say keep him. He spoke so harshly and incorrectly about Obama, I would have stripped him of everything. Unfortunately, the Democrats need to keep him on their side since they are still vulnerable to filibusters.

    November 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. proud army and navy mom

    I do not know why the dems keep this idiot, but I will have faith in our President to lead. I absolutely detest Joe, though. He'd better fall in line.

    November 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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