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. SJC

    I had no problem with Lieberman supporting McCain for president. Many Republicans supported Obama. The problem I did have with Lieberman is him standing with McCain or Palin and nodding like a bobblehead when they denounced Obama as a Socialist. Lieberman has voted the same way as Obama on economic issues. Instead of being a man of principle he became a stooge for the McCain campaign. It sickens me that I actually voted for this man for vice president in 2000.

    November 18, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. MD, TX

    Way to go Joe. Country before party. You are a true statesman.

    November 18, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. Abby

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

    November 18, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. david Armendale, SF, CA

    He should be made to wear a scarlet capital letter R on his chest.

    November 18, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Scott - Fort Worth - TX

    Its and even slate now. Joe gave the Dems the majority in 2006. Now they let him survive in 2008. Clean slate.

    One more betrayal and he's gone.

    November 18, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. DIANA

    Of course he kept his chairmanship, if your in goverment you can do whatever you want without any consequences..DUH..

    November 18, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. Michael watching from Canada

    Forgiveness is noble. Hopefully this will send a message to the Republicans that Obama's example of reaching across the aisle goes both ways. If America wants real change, then there has to be bipartisanship in Washington.

    November 18, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. paul (staunch Moderate)

    We all have the right to our political beliefs and to support our candidate. He expressed his support and went overboard in doing so. But there is much that he can do with his new-found connections in the Republican Party. It was a wise vote.

    November 18, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. Rimas

    DNC, you know that money I sent weeks ago, money used to elect democrats congressmen, well I changed my mind and I want it back ! I didn’t send my money to support Lieberman, Senator of the grand state of Tel-Aviv. He is an opportunistic hypocrite with no principal.

    November 18, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. dan

    we what to know who voted yes

    November 18, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Reality

    No surprises here. Of course the Democrats were not going to strip Lieberman of his chairmanship right now. If they did, he would have immediately joined the Republican Party, which would put the GOP in charge until the end of the session.

    HOWEVER.... If the Democrats pick up the seats in Alaska (probable), Minnesota (possible) and Georgia (definitely possible), they will have their 60 seats and Leiberman's days in the democratic caucus are over. Ditto if they pick up seats in 2010. Either way, Leiberman is of no use to the people of Connecticut anymore. He opposed his own constituents by backing Bush and McCain. He will lose his seat in the next election.

    November 18, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. J.Crobuzon

    I guess it serves the country better to have a consensus but I'd prefer to see him rounding Cape Horn in the belly of a hammerhead shark myself.

    November 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. Marvin

    Smart move.

    "Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer."

    November 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    Weak. The Democrats and Obama's first mistake...

    For somebody who voted against the war and campaigned on that stance, to keep Lieberman in charge of this committee is a slap on the face to everyone who voted for Obama due to his position on Iraq.

    So far, I have not seen a lot of "change".

    November 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. Khalil

    And another reason to leave the Democratic party. After all these years of voting the Democratic party line, they do not represent me. The California party had its minority groups take rights away from other minority groups. At the protest in front of City Hall, speaker after speaker was preaching rolling over and turning the other cheek and now after all the harm Lieberman did to the party during the election cycle, they keep him as Homeland Security chairman. He criticized the Democrats as being soft on terrorists. They must have agreed with him to keep him in that position so that he can protect us fromthe Bin Ladens of this world. The Democratic party lost its cohones and no longer speaks for me.

    November 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. TT in MD

    So that party of inclusion and change is okay for everything except if you stand against them (or Obama). When Wayne Gilchrist spoke at the DNC, the Republicians did not call him a traitor and threaten him. I thought that politicians were supposed to support their constituents and not their party. The Dems are counting him as part of their majority though.

    November 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |


    November 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. clbrune

    Lieberman's a joke, and so is the Good Ol' Boy network.

    Kick him out. His own State party kicked him out, why won't the Senate??

    November 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. Amy

    @obama is being played...

    Obama is a intelligent me, he knows exactly what he is doing!!! The only one getting played here is YOU!!!!! HI HATER!!!

    cnn please post..thank you

    November 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |

    Z Z Z

    November 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. CY Indy

    Maybe you should complain to your congressman who voted to keep him instead.

    November 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. AZ Demo

    Turncoat should have lost his chairmanship. Who needs him

    November 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. willpen

    I have a feeling that Lieberman's days as a Senator are coming to a close. He needed to turn Independent in order to keep his seat in his last election. He basically has no where else to turn to now. The people of Connecticut are made of good old Yankee stock and they will remember when the next election rolls around. That will be Lieberman's ultimate punishment. Now that he has been given a reprieve by the Democratic caucus he will mostly behave and tow the line.

    November 18, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. bob

    This is ridiculous. Joe Leiberman is a disgrace and should be expelled from the Democratic party.

    November 18, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Joe - Chicago, IL

    I sure hope they voted to let him keep it on the belief he was the best suited for the job, and not out of fear of public perception.

    November 18, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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