Lieberman keeps Senate chairmanship

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Senate Democrats spared Sen. Joe Lieberman from a threatened expulsion from the caucus or loss of his committee chairmanship despite smoldering anger at his siding with Republicans during the presidential race and campaign against President-elect Barack Obama.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the caucus, which held a secret ballot to decide Mr. Lieberman’s fate, said a vast majority of the chamber’s Democrats voted to keep Mr. Lieberman as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He said they chose reconciliation over retribution.

“Mr. Lieberman is a Democrat and part of this caucus,” Mr. Reid told reporters in announcing the caucus decision.

Participants in the closed door caucus meeting, said Mr. Reid made a similar appeal in Mr. Lieberman’s defense by asking the senators to remember Mr. Lieberman’s long history and loyalty to the party, including providing the crucial vote to give Democrats the majority in the chamber for the last two years.

Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut independent, said the verdict was “fair and forward leaning” and reflected a spirit of unity that Democrats hoped would pervade the next Congress as it goes to work with the Obama administration.

“Hopefully it will go from our caucus across the aisle to the Republicans as well,” Mr. Lieberman said.

Earlier in the Republican caucus, Sen Ted Stevens emerged from a meeting of Senate Republicans where a vote on expelling him from the caucus was postponed but where his fate with the party still clouded the proceedings.

“I would not wish what I’m going through on anybody — not my worst enemy,” Mr. Stevens told reporters.

A federal jury convicted Mr Stevens in October of seven counts of falsifying Senate financial disclosure forms to conceal at least $250,000 of gifts and home renovation work, mostly coming from a former friend and oil company excutive.

The felony conviction prompted calls from fellow Republicans to expell Mr. Stevens from the caucus. But the vote was postponed pending final results from the election.

The Alaska Republican remains caught in a close reelection battle as the vote counting continues in his home state.

Mr. Stevens, the longest serving member in Senate history, turned 85 Tuesday and grimmaced at a reporter’s wishing him a happy birthday.

“I hope you have a better one,” he said before returning to the caucus meeting where Republicans were electing their leaders for the next session.

As for lingering ill will toward Mr. Lieberman from Democratic voters, Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, said he was happy with the outcome and had no apologies.

Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, said he was satisfied that members such as himself who were “very angry” at Mr. Lieberman’s conduct during the campaign had a chance to confront the senator face to face. He stopped short of saying all was forgiven regarding Mr. Lieberman.

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About the Author
David R. Sands

David R. Sands

Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.

At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...

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