Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Eyes Are Still on Lieberman

And they said they also are looking for signs that Lieberman is ready to be a full member of their caucus again, considering he stopped showing up at weekly Democratic policy lunches this year after breaking with the party on ending the Iraq War and on who should be president.

“I think it’s important for him to show that he’s a team player. I think he understands that,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said.

Whitehouse and others said there was no specific criteria that they would be judging him on.

“I don’t think there’s a particular telltale,” Whitehouse said. “I think it’s kind of a sum and substance argument, but it was very important for the caucus today to send a message that we want to go forward as a unified caucus to put the past behind us and get serious about the process of governance. And so it’s pretty simply about him participating in a positive way in that process.”

Even Senators who spoke out against Lieberman during the closed-door meeting said they were trying to move on.

“I voted against the Lieberman resolution,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said. “I think it will be a disappointment to millions of people who worked very hard for Barack Obama, but now is the time to move on and start paying attention to the middle class and working families of this country.”

Democrats appeared to feel constrained by Obama, who made it known in post-election phone calls to Senators that he would rather forgive and forget Lieberman’s support for McCain. Still, many in the Democratic Conference have argued that the party could not condone Lieberman’s decision to criticize Obama as well as inject himself into Senate races on behalf of two incumbent Republicans.

That split appeared to be on full display Tuesday as Democrats attempted to both stress their desire for reconciliation, while also emphasizing — presumably for the benefit of left-wing bloggers who had sought Lieberman’s removal as Homeland Security chairman — that taking away Lieberman’s Environment panel assignment was indeed a stinging rebuke of his actions during the election.

“I think if it had been a resolution that had not had anything in it, it would not have been warmly received,” said Dodd, who helped broker the compromise that kept Lieberman from switching parties but exacted some retribution for his transgressions against the party. “There had to be some cost to this.”

From his position on Environment panel, Lieberman has been at the forefront of the debate on global warming, and he said Tuesday that that would not change just because he no longer serves on the panel. He said he gave up his seat on the panel at Reid’s request “in the spirit of cooperation.”

Senators and aides who were briefed on the meeting said Lieberman did apologize to his colleagues for the remarks that he made about Obama.

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