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. Tim

    I wonder if Reid has stopped kicking and screaming yet. Poor baby seems to have lost the battle.

    Good for Lieberman, he is a true patriot, in the grandest sense of the word. Just like McCain. It would do others a lot of good (Democrats and Republicans) to learn from their unbending promise to put their country first, ahead of their party and personal aspirations. I haven't seen it in many polticians, including the one headed for the white house. But to be fair to Obama, he has never been in a position (he's avoided these types of calls) to have to put his country ahead of his personal aspirations. It will be interesting to see what he does when such a call is required.

    November 18, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Vegas Barbie

    The troll keeps his seat. Perhaps things regarding this situation as with so many others will change once President Obama is in office in 60-some days. Can't come soon enough for me!

    November 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. ProgressiveChange

    Lets start a petition to kick Joe out of the Democratic party and the US Senate .

    He is a total disgrace to Democrats .
    Joes gotta Go.

    November 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. Tim

    It is funny that whenever the democrats don't get their way, they like to kick and scream and thorw a hissy-fit. Just read through the comments on this page and you will see what I mean.

    And when they win, they like to point out how everyone who voted the other way are traitors and losers.

    You really have to admire a group who can be both sore losers and sore winners. I can't wait for the Change We Can Believe In over the next four years.

    November 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. Dixie AZ

    Don't depend on Lieberman to vote against McCain. The Republican homeboys, McCain, Graham, and Independent/Republican/Democrat Lieberman.

    November 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  6. Tom in Delaware

    I wonder if the Democrats will vote by Secret Ballot on the Secret Ballot bill...Ha Ha Ha....that would be funny if it wasn't so scary.

    November 18, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Maggie from Virginia

    I'm disappointed but I see how this can workout for the Dems. He now owes them big time.

    November 18, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. ber6964

    That is really disappointing!! I hope O knows what he is doing keeping the little weasel in that position!!

    November 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. simplyred

    If the dems on Capital Hill won't sit him down, then it is up to us in Connecticut to make sure he gets a permanent rest. Believe me, we are sick and tired of his antics. Most people where I work plan on voting him out of office. I hope he know that.

    November 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. New Day

    I'm happy. let unity reighn! now, lets focus on real problems.

    November 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. tomagoose

    I think Obama did the right thing and in the right influencing his party and abstaining from the vote. Talking the talk walking the walk. This is bi-partisan politics, reaching across the aisle, allowing people when they voice their opinions, even if you don't agree with them. Lieberman has a right to his own opinions and to back whomever he wanted and to be honest, I don't think he's the only democrat who backed McCain. It's up to the voters in CT to get rid of him in two years but if he falls in line with Obama's vision, maybe his approval rating will improve.

    November 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Saad from NJ

    Nothing personal against this man but chairman homeland security is toooooooo important and key of a position for our country – so sad that this man gets to keep it – perhaps the most incompetent single individual in our entire nation of 260+ million people. If dems were worried about not coming across him out, they should've at least given him a relatively less important position. SO SAD!

    November 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. ZEDECO D


    November 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Rita

    I can't stand Joe Lieberman. And its not because he supported John McCain, its because of the way he degraded Obama. He also irritated me with that lame speech after Obama clinched the presidency about working together. However, we should not punish people, especially independents, for crossing partisan lines every once in a while. I feel that the Democrats showed maturity by respecting experience and know-how over partisanship with Joe Leiberman's post. If it were the other way around, the Republicans would have ostracized and punished a fellow senator for doing something similar.

    November 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. Stacy from Loudoun County VA

    There once was a man named Joe, to the other side he thought he should go. But when his good buddy McCain, got left out in the rain. Don't worry friends, he can do as before.

    November 18, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. bababear

    I agree with the talking heads last night that said the good people of Connecticutt will take care of Leiberman. I have a feeling that unless he pulls some major rabbits out of his hat, that this may be his last term as the distisguiched Senator from that state.

    November 18, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. Peggy - TX

    It looks like, Obama and the Dems are maneuvering to implement major changes in the first year of Obama’s administration and they will be needing Leiberman and every Dem in the Senate to make changes happen. If Leiberman lost the chairmanship, then the Dems in the Senate would have no leverage to put pressure on Leiberman to vote in lock step.

    November 18, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. john

    Quisling Lives! What a pathetic, whiny loser he is. Pretty certain he wears dresses at home.

    November 18, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. bill

    sad day for dems.when they let this traitor lieberman.back in let him stay with the repubs.we dont need his two faces.

    November 18, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. joann

    he is basically a republican, he should go over to the dark side where he belongs.

    November 18, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. Ed

    Are you complainerseven aware that he is now an Independant, not a Democrat!

    November 18, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. Ken

    Politics as usual!

    When will Washington change and remember who elected them and who they are working for?

    Why isn't it that Washington has two parties, would it not be better to have one party and everyone work for the American people?

    Hopefully the Obama Presidency can change how it is working now for something that will work for those that elected them into office, as well as working for the American people!

    November 18, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. President Barack Obama

    Setting Lieberman up for the Okey Doke!!

    November 18, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. hilary

    Most of them probably wanted him out, but who wants to start off on the wrong foot with a new president? This is probably a better move anyway knowing how the GOP and their followers would have made a big deal out of it if had he been kicked out.

    November 18, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  25. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Lieberman is rewarded by democrats without one apology to Obama. At some point humanity and respect should be part of politics if our government is the law of the land.

    November 18, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16