WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sen. Joseph Lieberman will keep his leadership of a top Senate committee.
Lieberman (I-Conn.), the only Orthodox Jew in the Senate, will remain the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Commitee in the next Congress after a 42-13 vote by the Senate Democratic Caucus. As part of the deal, Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats after leaving the party in 2006, will give up his chairmanship of a Environment and Public Works Commiteee subcommitee and his seat on the committee, but continue to head an Armed Services subcommittee.
Lieberman had come under fire from Democrats after endorsing and extensively campaigning for Republican presidential nominee John McCain. In particular, Democrats were angered by Lieberman’s criticism of Barack Obama as not ready to lead — including the Connecticut senator’s Republican National Convention speech in which he said that "eloquence is no substitute for a record" in discussing the then-Democratic nominee.
Lieberman reportedly apologized for some of his campaign remarks during Tuesday’s closed-door caucus meeting. He told reporters after the meeting, "There are some that I made that I wish I had never made at all." He also said that "this was done in a spirit of reconciliation."
An Arab-American group had called on Senate Democrats not to return Lieberman to his chairmanship. The letter from the Arab American Institute to U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, cited in particular a report on Islamist extremism and the "Homegrown Terrorist Threat" completed in May under Lieberman’s watch.