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. JL

    Puh-lease. It's not like they actually planned to take it away, it was a political grand-standing.

    November 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. Scott NYC Independent

    This is one of the things I really dislike about the democratic party. When they are justified and right in taking exterme measures they always hold back. Sometimes you have to make an example in order to prevent chaos. Look at the Republicans who let their members have all kinds of scandals without one major verbal warning from their party leaders. Stand up and say what the rules are and if you break them you are toast.

    November 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Laverne

    Fine for him to caucus with the dems, but keep his chairmanship, WHAT! This is like rewarding your disobedient child with a playstation. I know Joe the Lieberman is laughing and chuckling about this, he knew the dems did not have the nerve to take the chairmanship away from him. Dems, get a backbone!

    November 18, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    Time to move on to the business of governing the country.

    November 18, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Scott NYC Independent

    Wrong decision – he should be gone on principal alone.

    November 18, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. Robert of Long Island

    I am sure there will be talks between him and Emanuel!

    November 18, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  7. michael

    He shouldn't be trusted!!! He is all about himself!!!
    Needs to kicked out all together.
    How sad for the voters that put him where he is.flip flop.
    Is there a way for earlier election in a state level?
    Bad role model!!!

    November 18, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. DB25

    If the Dems had 61 seats in the Senate coming in January – he'd be TOAST. He can't really be trusted at this point so I'd keep him at arms length....maybe CT will vote him out next time.

    November 18, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    What a bunch of spinless whimps. They should have got rid of him.

    November 18, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. Danny in Chicago

    No worries.....the dems will be watching him like a hawk and then he won't get re-elected for his next term. No big deal.


    November 18, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. Dominic

    This is what we are talking about. Obama is really showing large heart here while Lieberman looks as little as an ant. What a shame for Snake Lieberman. This is a big lesson to everyone out there. Part of my prayers while all the campaine season was exactely this very moment when we can look in Lieberman,s face filled with shame. Let him keep the chairmanship curtesy of President Obama whom Lieberman called all kinds of names and tried everything to demoralize. God is good and the president elect has done what the almighty would have done in this circumstances.

    November 18, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  12. Patrick

    I don't understand why there was any controvery about him. All he did was back who he thought was the best person for President regardless of what party he belonged to. This is what we should all do. The age of the two party system needs to go away. Lieberman is a true patriot. Also he didn't say anything unfair or untrue about Obama. Honestly what did he say that was so wrong? I have a little more respect for the Democrats now that Dean is leaving and they voted to keep Lieberman on.

    November 18, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. rashid cali

    what the F is wrong with obama i'm a obama supporter but he's takeing in to many enemys there going to stab him in the back lieberman should be gone he's a trader

    November 18, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. arc, Lugano CH

    Judas Liebermann wanted to be VP under Gore...Then he wanted to be VP under McCain. I can see it now...Palin/Liebermann 2016.

    Judas Liebermann is nothing more than a GOP collaborator. Instead of forgiveness, The DNC should have sharpened the knives for Liebermann.

    November 18, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    As much as I dislike the guy, I also remember that even Jesus forgave Judas.

    November 18, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. Randy, San Francisco

    Obama is right. Time to move on to governing the country and solving problems. Besides Liberman's vote is needed to break any GOP filibuster!

    November 18, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. Jason, Omaha

    ugh look at that smug look on his face. this man makes me want to puke

    November 18, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. Nan

    Never could stand the man! Not only is he as dull as dishwater, he's a traitor to his party AND our country for putting a foreign nation ahead of the U.S.A.!! Where are the tar and feathers?

    November 18, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. Lou

    This rat deserves a one way ticket back to hell....

    November 18, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. Michael

    There ought to be some kind of substantive punishment.

    November 18, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. Fred the moderate

    You know Joe has his right to stand for what he believes in, however misguided it is. I doubt he'd do this again. He will be loosing his seat in the next election anyway so let it go. If we are trying to change washington, lets start here with Joe! The key to our survival is unity. Unify people and lets move forward. Joe is a thing of the past.

    November 18, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. thomas

    Big mistake.

    November 18, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. Claire

    I say kick droopy dog out of the party!

    November 18, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. TangoDancer

    This was a smart move by the Dems. It reflects the desire for bi-partisanship and the also the desire to move on from the past. Punishing Lieberman would have only provided ammunition for right-wing journalist and bloggers to criticize the incoming administration and congress.

    And... If the people of CT want to get rid of him when election time comes up, then that is there perogative. For now, the Dem caucus can count on another warm body for future votes on many, many important issues to come.

    November 18, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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