2 Democrats to Submit Compromise on Lieberman

By Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A pair of Senate Democrats will offer a compromise plan today to sanction Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) for his support of the Republican presidential ticket but allow him to keep a key committee chairmanship and remain in the party caucus.

Senators and aides said yesterday that Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) and Ken Salazar (Colo.) will present a plan at a caucus meeting that would strip Lieberman of a low-profile subcommittee chairmanship, possibly one on global warming. But Lieberman would retain the gavel of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"There are going to be options," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), chairman of the Democratic steering committee that oversees the selection of chairmen.

Stabenow declined to comment on what those options would be but said that Dodd and Salazar have spent the past week talking to other Democrats about their plan and suggested that they could avoid a showdown that might send Lieberman across the aisle to caucus with Republicans.

"There's a reasonable way to provide accountability" on Lieberman without stricter punishment, Stabenow said. But she predicted a "spirited debate" because some senators have advocated revoking Lieberman's chairmanship regardless of the consequences.

No final decisions have been made, and senators who support stronger punishment of Lieberman are expected to have a chance to express their views.

Lieberman's office declined to comment.

Lieberman supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president, but many Senate Democrats said he crossed a line during his speech at the Republican National Convention in September, when he called Barack Obama, then the Democratic nominee, "an eloquent young man" who was not prepared to be president. He also has come under criticism for supporting the reelection of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the ranking minority-party member of the homeland security committee, and defending the work of Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) on his committee just three weeks before the election.

Lieberman has resisted giving up his role on the homeland security committee, where he has spent the decade as chairman or ranking minority-party member and co-authored legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democratic leaders have come under increasing pressure from liberal activists to strip Lieberman of the chairmanship as a penalty for his criticism of Obama. But Obama has endorsed keeping Lieberman in the Democratic caucus and fashioning a compromise penalty.

Lieberman chairs a subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee that handles global warming issues, as well as the air and land subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee.

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