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No Decision Yet on Lieberman

November 6, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Senator Joe Lieberman is an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats. In the 110th Congress, the was given chairmanship of the prestigious Homeland Security Committee. But for the past year or so he’s been John McCain’s attack dog, going as far as to accuse Barack Obama of voting to cut troop funding in a keynote speech at the Republican National Convention. Today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met with Lieberman to discuss his future and released this statement after:

>Today Senator Lieberman and I had the first of what I expect to be several conversations. No decisions have been made. While I understand that Senator Lieberman has voted with Democrats a majority of the time, his comments and actions have raised serious concerns among many in our caucus.
>I expect there to be additional discussions in the days to come, and Senator Lieberman and I will speak to our caucus in two weeks to discuss further steps.

So, not too much information about what went on in the meeting. Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake has been working on this for a while – here’s what she suspects happened at the meeting:

>Reid told him he can stay in the caucus if he steps down from his committee chairmanship (a campaign we started shortly after the 2006 election, thanks to everyone who participated with pitchforks and torches). I imagine Reid told him they’ll wait to do anything until the other Senate races are decided, but that’s the way it’s going to go down. Those are the rather well-source rumors circulating, anyway.
>Joe now goes to see if he can get a better deal from the GOP, knowing his chances of winning in Connecticut as a Republican in 2012 are about “zero.”

And here’s Josh Orton, who used to work for Reid:

>But where Reid’s statements about Lieberman used to imply no coming consequences, i.e. ’Joe’s gone off the reservations sometimes, but…’ – today’s statement runs in the opposite direction: ’Joe’s with us on some things, but….’ Reid is obviously implying that Lieberman will be punished; just because the details weren’t announced today doesn’t mean nothing will happen. Rather, Reid is likely working through the Senate mechanisms behind-the-scenes: walking through the complex process of Chairmanship ‘musical chairs’ that Ari describes here, estimating how many Dems we’ll actually have in our caucus, and speaking with all of Lieberman’s allies in the Dem caucus so no one goes off the reservation when a decision is announced.
>So don’t misread the reality – Lieberman has very little leverage in this situation and nowhere to go. He angered Obama and Reid during the campaign, and his presidential candidate lost. So Reid is taking his time, but that shouldn’t be misread as indecisiveness or inaction. It just proves how little power Lieberman now has.

UPDATE: Greg Sargent at TPM:

>Senator Harry Reid’s office has just confirmed to me, on the record, that Reid is considering a new step: Asking all the Democratic Senators to vote on Lieberman’s fate at their upcoming full caucus meeting if Reid and Lieberman are unable to agree on a way for Lieberman to relinquish his plum chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee.
>"If Senator Reid and Lieberman don’t reach an agreement, his future chairmanship may be put to a vote by the caucus as a whole on November 18th," Reid spokesperson Jim Manley told me, in response to my questions about the next step being mulled by Reid.
>Manley’s assertion represents the first public acknowledgment that this possibility is being seriously considered, and is a significant ratcheting up of pressure on Lieberman by Reid’s office.

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