Lieberman: I’m ‘Grateful’ Senate Democrats Changed The Rules So That I’m Not Singled Out For Punishment

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"Lieberman: I’m ‘Grateful’ Senate Democrats Changed The Rules So That I’m Not Singled Out For Punishment"

Today, Senate Democrats decided to wholeheartedly embrace Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), voting 42-13 to allow him to keep his prized chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. At a press conference today, Lieberman said that he wasn’t “chastened” by his colleagues at all.

Before today, Lieberman was also chairman of two subcommittees. He has now given up his gavel of the Environment and Public Works subcommittee, but will stay on as chair of the Armed Services subcommittee. This is hardly punishment. As Lieberman explained during his press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has decided not to single him out and simply changed the rules so that all senators will be restricted to only one committee chairmanship and one subcommittee chairmanship:

LIEBERMAN: Senator Reid asked me to relinquish my seat on the Environment Committee. In the spirit of cooperation and in part to make room for freshmen senators, new senators who wanted to be on that committee, I said I would, in the spirit of cooperation, do that. [...]

Incidentally, Senator Reid will be imposing a new rule in light — that is, we’ll be applying a rule that exists in the Senate but hasn’t been in light of the new members, the larger Democratic Caucus, which is that each member can only be the chairman of one full committee and the chairman of one subcommittee.

So in that regard I am very grateful to continue as chairman of Homeland Security and of the Airland Subcommittee of Armed Services, which overseas all Army and Air Force programs.

Lieberman then announced that he would be introducing global warming legislation with his good friend Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) soon after the 111th Congress convenes. Watch it:

Senate Democrats are allowing Lieberman to keep control of the Armed Services subcommittee, even though some of his most misguided and incendiary attacks on Obama were on national security. Lieberman, for example, suggested that Obama hasn’t always “put the country first,” said that President Bush was right for comparing Obama to Nazi appeasers, and worried that Obama was “naive” and lacked the “right stuff to bomb Iran.”

Although the meeting was held behind closed doors, the AP notes that Bernie Sanders (VT), Pat Leahy (VT), and Jeff Merkley (OR) reportedly spoke against allowing Lieberman to keep his gavels. Reid, Dick Durbin (IL), John Kerry (MA), Ben Cardin (MD), and Tom Udall (NM) were those speaking in favor. CQ reports that booting Lieberman from the Democratic caucus altogether “was never really on the table.”

Transcript:

LIEBERMAN: The resolution expresses strong disapproval and rejection of statements that I made about Senator Obama during the campaign. And in that regard, I said very clear, some of the statements — some of the things that people have said I said about Senator Obama are simply not true.

There are other statements that I made that I wish I had made more clearly. And there are some that I made that I wish I had not made at all.

And, obviously, in the heat of campaigns, that happens to all of us, but I regret that. And now it’s time to move on.

QUESTION: Does that include what you said at the convention, the Republican convention, sir, specifically about Obama?

LIEBERMAN: I didn’t — I really want to leave my statement to that. What I said at the convention was to explain why I was supporting Senator McCain.

QUESTION: Do you feel as though that you have been chastened in any way?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I think this was done in a — in a spirit of reconciliation. And I think my colleagues voted overwhelmingly to go forward in a positive way, which was exactly the way that I intend to go forward.

So I — look, I appreciate their respect for my independence of mind. And that’s who I am.

But I’ve also been for 45 years a Democrat, and for the last 20, what I consider to be a member in good standing of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

So that’s what the record shows. And I look forward to continuing to serve my nation and my state in the position I have, and particularly with great enthusiasm and a sense of purpose to continue to be chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and chairman of the Airland Committee.

Senator Reid, I want to make clear — Senator Reid asked me to relinquish my seat on the Environment Committee. In the spirit of cooperation and in part to make room for freshmen senators, new senators who wanted to be on that committee, I said I would, in the spirit of cooperation, do that. That’s a committee that I — I have been actively involved in and in recent years, particularly, on matters related to doing something about global warming.

But I will just continue to do that off the committee. In fact, Senator McCain and I soon after the 111th session convenes will introduce the latest version of our anti-global warming bill.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LIEBERMAN: That’s true. Incidentally, Senator Reid will be imposing a new rule in light — that is, we’ll be applying a rule that exists in the Senate but hasn’t been in light of the new members, the larger Democratic Caucus, which is that each member can only be the chairman of one full committee and the chairman of one subcommittee.

So in that regard I am very grateful to continue as chairman of Homeland Security and of the Airland Subcommittee of Armed Services, which overseas all Army and Air Force programs.

Update

Senator-elect Jeff Merkley (D-OR) advocated stripping Lieberman of his chairmanship at the caucus meeting, according to Merkley spokeswoman Julie Edwards. Merkely “expressed how profoundly disappointed he was with Lieberman’s actions,” Edwards said, adding, “He also believes that the chairmanship is not an entitlement, it’s a privilege.”

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