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. Jenny

    Some of you just don't get it. You think the democrats are being weak and Barack is being played. However, just think about it. What does revenge get you.... not much at all. This way, Leiberman is not in the spotlight and he can't have any tantrums. Tomorrow he will be yesterday's news.

    Barack showed that he was a bigger man than Leiberman will ever be. In 2010, Leiberman will get his punishment when Connecticut votes him out of office.

    November 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. Jeanne from AZ

    Hopfully he will be voted off the island. Polls in Conneticut show over 60% of the voters, dislike him.

    November 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. CY Indy

    Though it is secrect ballot. At 42-13, it likely your congressman voted to keep him.

    November 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. Lorna, NY

    OK. I can deal with him keeping his chair. The Dems need him. BUT, when election time comes around, the Dems need to get a strong competitor for his job. HE NEEDS TO BE VOTED OUT12 he is pathetic.

    November 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. James

    As the 2000 VP candidate for the Democrats his behaviour over the past few years does not warrant his retaining such an important position. Not to mention his less than appropriate or mature remarks about President-elect Obama during the campaign. Clearly in his support for McCain he doesn't get the issues or what is right for the US at this point in its history.

    November 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Bubba

    Tired, Senator Devine didn't get to vote on this.

    November 18, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. Dave, Central Illinois

    Ah yes, read the comments of the enlightened unifiers that are the Obama zombies. Here are a few tidbits – "Judas", "to hell", "traitor", etc. Kinda shows what a vindictive bunch we have to look forward to hearing from the next 4 years. Please, though, keep it up. 2010 is starting to look like a good year for a GOP comeback.

    November 18, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. candis

    I believe that was a great move by the Dems. I also believe that Lieberman has a conscience that will eat at him daily. He doesn't have the fortitude to leave on his own. It was a great move to keep him around . That is a great punishment. He has to face the Man that he made such rude and harsh remarks about on a regular basis. He must feel much guilt and shame. The hardest part will be having to face President Elect Obama. It is such a shame to be so old and yet so foolish. He doesn't even deserve pity just a hole to crawl into to hide from the world for such shame and disgust.

    November 18, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. John from White Plains, NY

    He better enjoy his time in the Senate until the next election. Connecticut will send this turncoat home where he belongs. Guess they should have sent Ned Lamont to the Senate four years ago. Leiberman is done....Al Gore must be furious....

    November 18, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. Real Change

    Joe Lieberman told lies about Obama and Democrats knowing full well that they were lies. He stood and smiled and nodded as Sarah and the other Goons told ran the most ugly, deceitful and dishonorable campaign of my lifeitme.

    In the final analisys Joe did this for two reasons. Firstly, he thought it would benefit him personally. Secondly, he was realitively sure he would get away with it withoug consiquence.

    There is an old saying: "you teach people how to treat you." Joe and all of the others have been taught again today how they should treat Democrats.

    November 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Kingsley

    This is why democrats continue to lose elections. We have no concept of party discipline. Its one thing to support John McCain, but this guy went to the RNC convention and lambasted Obama, he didn't utter a word while Palin accused Obama of palling around with terrorists. He said nothing while the right wing painted Obama as a radical muslim on the one hand and a militant Christian on the other. He should've lost his chairmanship until he redeems himself. At the very least, he owes Obama a public apology.

    November 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. Jackie in Dallas

    Abby, I agree. The math doesn't add up unless it includes Republicans. There are currently 49 Democratic Senators, and two Indpendents. Even if both independents (inluding Lieberman) were allowed to vote, the total could only be 51. Did they perhaps include some of the newly elected Senators who haven't taken office yet? They at least were on the hill yesterday...

    November 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  13. Ian

    Israel was worried for a second there.

    November 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. Corey Gabriel

    Not suprising, the Democratic senators have no "balls." They have never held the Bush administration accountable for its lies, crimes and shredding of the Constitution. In fact, they pretty much gave Bush whatever he wanted. Now, they don't even have the stones to hold Lieberman accountable. I guess that's how the Washington insiders' club is one is ever held accountable or responsible for anything.....just look at the current financial mess they've gotten us into and all they do is point fingers. What a bunch of losers!

    November 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. An American

    Ahhh tooo bad, he did not support Obama. So what -who cares. Most of the people who voted for Obama do not even know anything about him in the first place. They should watch how they talk about other people, the country just might want Obama to take a hike after four years (or maybe) even before.

    November 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. JIM...TX

    ALL the Dem's that voted for Joe to stay on need to be canned as soon as possible...they're spineless and 1/2 of the problem we have in the Senate. Pelosi an that wimp Reid need to be the first ones out the door!!

    November 18, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. Jack from Stamford, CT

    Elmer Fudd is done.....what a waste!!!

    November 18, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. NotFalling4it

    Hey Joe,
    Rahm wants to talk to you outside about something.
    Good luck.

    November 18, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. Alex

    Absolutely pathetic. Democrats have no spine. They are lucky there is no viable third party because they will soon be finding the netroots community is isck of giving money and support to people who will bend over backwards to support a turncoat like Lieberman.

    November 18, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Sherri

    To forgive is divine...I guess, but this one is tough to take after his performance at the RNC. I hope a very dedicated Democrat runs against him in the next election and wins.

    November 18, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. TrueIndependent

    Republicans, instead of telling Democrats what to do, why don't you go put your own house in order? Sorry, my bad, the house is no longer standing!

    It is a shame that even after the best strategic campaign in the history of our country, some people are still in denial and cannot comprehend that Pres-elect Obama knows exactly what he is doing.

    November 18, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Frederik

    Senate democrats take nottice, I won't be giving any more funds to those who voted for Lieberman so it's useless to come begging for more money. And don't go thinking that in tow or four years time I'll have forgooten this. My memory is long.

    Why? Because this truly is spitting in the face of all of us who worked so hard to get a Democratic president and an improved Democratic majority. It once more proves that Senate Democrats are spinless weaklings. They caved in to Bush every time and now they reward this Quisling and cave in to his empty threats.

    November 18, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. JIM...TX

    Those that supported this fiasco need to be named so come next election time we can vote the idiots OUT!

    November 18, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. FreeNLovIt

    Hillary will be a great choice for Secretary. Any international leaders who think they can push Obama around, will first have to go through the Clintons first!!!!

    Good job Obama!!!

    November 18, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  25. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    bill November 18th, 2008 12:11 pm ET

    What a bunch of spineless Senators.. It makes me sick to be a democrat. Infers that President elect Obama is a Marxist and hates the troops and he gets no punishment.. Spineless democrats
    I think you're missing the big picture. He needs 60 democrats. He only has between 54 and 55. Remember, Obama is no longer a senator, so you have to subtract one. If they lose Lieberman, that makes it that much harder.

    Try to keep in mind that this is a numbers game. Also, since Obama won, then Lieberman couldn't have done too much damage – except to himself – so it's easy to forgive him.

    The next step is to try to win over John McCain, even if it is only once in a while.

    November 18, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16