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. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    At least he didn't lead us into war, destroying our rights as in BUSHCO did. Lets just get on with turning the page with Obama. With all the problems before us, he is small potatos.

    November 18, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Amber

    Hooray for unity!!!

    November 18, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Democrats may have forgiven (unlike the bitter book Pastor Huck is peddling) but I doubt they will forget... or they can just point out that ol' Joe always picks losers.

    President-Elect Obama is not out for revenge and has set the tone. But I'm betting ol' Joe will watch how and where he walks... and it will be interesting to see if he can fool the fine people in his home state again. He wasn't even capable of keeping the Presidential Helicopter project in Conn. Shumer and Clinton moved the whole contract to NY.

    November 18, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  4. EJ

    Secret ballot this wasn't National security, we the people have a right to know. I guess the senators are afraid of the people. This guy will not help the new Pres. he'll stab him in the back. Once again the Dems in the Senate show their lack of guts and hide behind a secret ballot.
    The repuds would do the same.

    November 18, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |

    "Do(sic) to the inclusion of a third party candidate, Chambliss fell just shy of that threshold, forcing a runoff contest." Were the editors asleep?

    November 18, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. Matt

    Extremely disappointing.

    November 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. How dare he

    How dare he go against his party! They should set him as an example of what happens when you try to do what you think is best and not just for the party. I'm mortified.

    November 18, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  8. Apples for sale

    What does Conn. and Florida have in common and in great numbers?

    November 18, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. GA for Obama

    Which congressman?! Only SENATORS VOTED!

    November 18, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    The "Band of Brothers" decide to keep their collegiate...their is no honor among theives.....none.

    November 18, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. Kcox

    Lieberman in? Then, Reid should be out! The inability of Reid to effectively deal with Bush and the R's in the last two years is bad enough. McConnell has run procedural circles around this wuss . . . and, now he can't even deal with a basic question of party discipline??!!

    November 18, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  12. Ken in NC

    @ Brian from Fort Mill, SC
    I admit that Jesus forgave Judas and that was HIS way but you must consider that Jesus is not a registered voter in the state of CT. and when election time comes around for him, the voters up there will not be so forgiving of him.

    Now having said that I must admit that as an Independent, he was entitled to support the candidate of his choice and that is all good for the likes of me but as the elected Senator from the state of CT. his job was supposed to be to do the will of the voters he represented. Well he did not do it and so he will get his spanking at election time.

    November 18, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. facts are facts

    For the uninformed Lieberman did not support McCain because he thought John was the best candidate he supported him to get a cushy job in the administration and felt McCain was going to win.

    Doesn't matter how he'll only survive for 2 years then out to pasture.

    November 18, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  14. Bill Charlotte,NC

    Dems sold their soul for a vote.... Joe LIEman man is an opportunistic creep!

    November 18, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. No More GOP

    "Lap Dog" Lieberman gets to keep his post? Hmm, sets a pretty bad precedent in the Senate for getting away with being a snake. Now they'll ALL know that you can get away with it and there will never be any repercussions. Look at Ted Stevens. Senators protect their own, regardless of party.

    November 18, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. cristian trusca

    Israel won !!!! Long life to Juda !

    November 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. Craig- Easton, PA

    4 years and counting.

    November 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. Deb in Colo

    Aw, poor Joe – a slap on the wrist.

    November 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |

    Disgusting – both the cowardly acts of betrayal of Loserman, and the spineless action of Dems. I have NO problem with Joe supporting the McCain bc. of his deep belief in the war effort (even though I wholeheartedly disagree). It's Joe's standing by McCain and Palin as they accused Obama of 'spreading the wealth' as a 'Socialist' taht put me over the edge. The Dems are a bunch of gutless wimps!

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

    Relax. It's politics.

    November 18, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. Pat F

    Harry Reid couldn't lead his way out of a wet paper bag with a machete. What a WIMP!

    November 18, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. TonyS

    Either Democrats are COWARDS, or they don't care what the left wing nuts have to say. The Democratic Party is alot bigger than the MoveOn crowd.

    November 18, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. jane

    Liberman should have been voted off, however, he will loose the respect he once had. People would always look at him as a trater and a person that cannot be trusted. That within itself is enough torture. It's a possiblity that he may loose his set . Conectecut is a Democrat state. The people will always remember how he stabed them in the back.

    November 18, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. jb

    They're only keeping him in case the Dems pull off the 3 state sweep of Alaska, Minn, and Georgia. Liberman will represent the 60th seat.

    November 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  25. James From Chicago

    I can they keep him??? He is a traitor.

    November 18, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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