Lieberman threatens party switch over Iraq debate

Sen. Lieberman


Senate Democrats appear ready to try and revoke the broad authority Congress gave President George W. Bush to launch his increasingly unpopular invasion of Iraq in 2003 but the escalating debate in Congress could change the balance of power in that legislative body.

While Democratic leaders map out a strategy to seize control of the war from Bush, maverick pro-war Democrat Joe Lieberman is threatening to jump to the Republican side of the aisle, effectively turning control of the Senate over to the GOP.

Lieberman’s not-so-subtle threat adds fuel to the burning debate on Bush’s failed Iraq war and highlights the fragility of Democratic control. If he switches parties, the Senate would be thrown into a tie with Vice President Dick Cheney having the deciding vote.

Reports The Associated Press:

Four years ago, Congress passed legislation authorizing President Bush to go to war in Iraq. Now Senate Democrats want to take it back.

Key lawmakers, backed by party leaders, are drafting legislation that would effectively revoke the broad authority granted to the president in the days Saddam Hussein was in power, and leave U.S. troops with a limited mission as they prepare to withdraw.

Officials said Thursday the precise wording of the measure remains unsettled. One version would restrict American troops in Iraq to fighting al-Qaida, training Iraqi army and police forces, maintaining Iraq’s territorial integrity and otherwise proceeding with the withdrawal of combat forces.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record), D-Nev., intends to present the proposal to fellow Democrats next week, and he is expected to try to add the measure to anti-terrorism legislation scheduled to be debated later this month. Officials who described the strategy spoke only on condition of anonymity, noting that rank-and-file senators had not yet been briefed on the details.

Republicans recently thwarted two Democratic attempts to pass a nonbinding measure through the Senate that was critical of Bush’s decision to deploy an additional 21,500 combat troops.

After failing on his second attempt last Saturday, Reid said he would turn his attention to passing binding legislation.

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, declined to discuss the deliberations, saying only, “No final decisions have been made on how to proceed.”

Any attempt to limit Bush’s powers as commander in chief would likely face strong opposition from Republican allies of the administration in the Senate. Additionally, unlike earlier, nonbinding measures, the legislation now under consideration could also face a veto threat.

Still, it marks a quickening of the challenge Democrats are mounting to Bush’s war policies following midterm elections in which war-weary voters swept Republicans from power in both the House and Senate.

The emerging Senate plan differs markedly from an approach favored by critics of the war in the House, where a nonbinding measure passed last week.

But the fly in the ointment may be Lieberman, who lost the Democratic primary in his home state, won as an independent, and aligned himself with Democrats when the new Congress opened.

Reports Carrie Budoff of The Politico:

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut told the Politico on Thursday that he has no immediate plans to switch parties but suggested that Democratic opposition to funding the war in Iraq might change his mind.

Lieberman, a self-styled independent who caucuses with the Democrats, has been among the strongest supporters of the war and President Bush’s plan to send an additional 21,500 combat troops into Iraq to help quell the violence there.

“I have no desire to change parties,” Lieberman said in a telephone interview. “If that ever happens, it is because I feel the majority of Democrats have gone in a direction that I don’t feel comfortable with.”

Asked whether that hasn’t already happened with Iraq, Lieberman said: “We will see how that plays out in the coming months,” specifically how the party approaches the issue of continued funding for the war.


  1. Kaine

    Several months ago, he was a Democrat. Then the democrats proved to him that they no longer want him to represent them! So he changes party to be an independant.

    So now he wants to vote with the Republicans which, apparently, means that now he doesn’t support the independants ideals either.

    So when he switches to republican, what will he do when he comes across something he wants to vote against?

    Oh, that’s right, there is nothing republican he will vote against, since, IMHO, he has been a republican all along!!

    Slime of the earth never dies, it just slithers away!!

  2. Foss

    The voters in CT should have know that when he switched parties, he was nothing more than a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

    He’s been the lapdog of this administration and Israel all along. He’s now showing his true colours and ranks right up there with Benedict Arnold.

    He belongs in the Republican party, a bunch of tyraitors all to the Unted States.

    Ct voters should raise Hell!

  3. Scott

    What is skyguy smoking? Lieberman took a stand and lost a primary. A primary. He then won an election over Lamont 50% to 40%. When an independent can do this, I would hardly call this “barely” winning. The people of Connecticut voted for Lieberman becuase they knew his record and knew he was a man with convictions. Lieberman has priciples, often lacking by elected people in Congress today. Where would we be if people like Adams and Jefferson (who rarely agreed on much) but still had vision and principles, changed their minds because their positions were temporarily unpopular? I suggest we wait until the next election cycle and vote how we see fit. It’s jackasses like many already posted on this thread who make democrats look like a bunch of whiny bitches some times. Let’s man up and have a plan for once.

  4. Eleanor

    Hey Joe: Any respect I had for you just went down the toilet into the sewer. Everything said above is exactly how I feel about you and so sorry your feelings are hurt but in politics and in the public eye you have to know that not everyone is going to hand you a lollipop and kiss you on the cheek and pat your head. Go join the liars, cheats and dictators but don’t count on them being your friend cause Bush/Cheney, et al. is well known for sacrificing people to cover their own asses.

  5. Chris

    This self righteous, self serving jackass should change his name to Naderman. Talk about believing your own hype! He really believes he’s some kind of moral arbiter instead of the opportunistic hack he is.

  6. Gerald Sutliff

    If we Democrats fold before Lieberman’s threat it proves we’re more interested in power than principle.

  7. George

    I say good–I am sick of Lieberman thinking he’s so clever by trying to play both sides. Once he switches, the power of that threat will be gone for him, and we can focus on the merits of the issues and proposals at hand. Everyone in Congress is going to have to answer for their positions sooner or later, whether they like it or not.

  8. JimZ

    Brian, Brian, you must be one of those “Limbots” I referred to in my previous post.

    “spineless cut and run wackos”?

    That sounds like right out of Rush’s arse.

    WHO has been ruining this country for the last 6 years? WHO was the party IN CHARGE?

    Get a clue dude…

    By the way, don’t assume the posters of this site are Democrats. Just because we may cut down your favorite DEMOCRAT (Joe) and your buddies Deferment Dick and Draft Dodger Dubya doesn’t mean we are Democrats. Thinking like THAT is what’s wrong with this country…

  9. mojibyrd

    Alas, i have a solution, how about all those deomocrats and republicans who are for the war, suit up and head on over and take a few tour’s of duty like the rest of the troops and after being in iraq for 2-4 years and inhaling depleted uranium and partaking of the killing and devistation see if they still feel this is such a great idea to fight Bush’s war for oil.

  10. Michael

    I would like to say to everybody who bad mouthed Liberman. “RIGHT ON” Every-time I get some hope that we may have some sanity in the Senate. Along comes Liberman. No wonder some people stop voting. I think we may be looking for TERROISTIST in the wrong country. You think???

  11. Mary

    What will Lieberman do as more Republicans come to the D point of view on Iraq as the 2008 election draws near?? Many Rs see the handwriting on the wall even if he doesn’t.

  12. Kent Shaw


    The United States needs to divorce its interests from the interests of Israel. The chosen people have had their own country since 1948 and it is time for them to stand or fall on their own. One way to start is to get rid of the Israel First Bunch like Lieberman and a second way is to require AIPAC, the American Israeli Political AFFAIRS Committee (SIC, yes I know that is not the actual name), which in reality is the American Israeli Political ACTION Committee, to register as a foreign agent as required by law.

  13. John L

    For the first time in U.S. history, one man – OK, Superman – Cheney, could control both the White House and the Senate.

  14. Mike Krauss

    I hope that Harry Reid is courting Susan Collins with great intensity right now. We need her to keep our slim majority.

    Joe is a phony, angry disingenuous loser who has forfeited his right to be a Democrat, with a big D or a small d!!

    Just go and be with your hysterical and mean-spirited Republican neo-con friends and leave CT while you’re at it.

    I am disgusted by your actions and your love for a phony war and fed up with you as a US Senator. Just GO.

  15. Unicorn

    Hmmm….I wonder if Lieberman reads Capitol Hill Blue. Let us all bow our heads and pray . . . . . . . . .A-Men!

  16. just whom does Lieberman represent? He is the finest example to date (at least that I can recall) of whom Phil Ochs was warning us about when he penned “love me I’m a liberal” ….

    Perhaps these warmongers should lead the charge in Iraq from the front, rather than hiding in DC.

  17. K. Bennett

    Go Joe, we don’t need a whimpering repb. any way be gone with ya, we will just get a few more to come over to our side when they see what bumblings the repb. have done and contin. to do.. They are a plain out train wreck…

  18. Aloft

    OK … on the count of three … all Republicans in Democrat/Independent garb jump to your actual party. Joe Lieberman/Zell Miller, et al., never had the guts to be Republicants during an election in Democratic districts/states and wrapped themselves in an electability cloak based upon the polls and demographics of the election. It would have taken some guts to come out of the political closet during an election and proudly admit you are a liar.

    Meanwhile – who does Joe Lieberman actually represent? His actions in the U.S. Senate on Bush’s Iraq War reflect more of the Knesset’s interests than the people of Connecticut who elected him.

  19. Bill Jonke

    Lieberman has proven without any reasonable doubt that he is a hypocrite, a traitor, a turncoat, and probably a little bit senile.

    It’s really shameful to see a so-called adult that high up in the government hierarchy be such a puerile little namby pamby wishy washy sore loser.

    In about two years, because he didn’t get what he wanted, he switched parties, and he’s about to do it again, lying to us all the way about voting Democratic. Now he wants to roil the powers that be in the Senate, giving dickhead Cheney the deciding vote in the Senate, and bring the US closer to chaos than we are already.

    I have no use for this kind of schlock!

    Somebody had better get going with the checks and balances and the investigations. This insanity has got to stop.

  20. Doug

    I suggest that Senator Lieberman could be only one of a larger number of pretenders, to use a congenial phrase. That is, assuredly there are others, and one need not restrict such a survey to only the legislative “branch” of United States government.

  21. JV

    Good riddance to Lieberman. So what if he switches parties so that the Senate is tied. That means Cheney will have to preside and be the tie-breaker. At least we’ll know where Cheney is, and he will have less time to devote to undermining our democracy. It would also make the already unpopular Cheney the new face of the GOP. What a boost for 2008!

  22. Kim Brechtel

    Unfortunately Conneticut got what it deserved. How many people warned Lieberman would still be another stooge for Bush/Cheney. And LIEberman said he would be an independent who supported the Democratic caucus. yea, right 😉 😉

    And GW Bush has the morals and ethics rivaling Jesus. Just saying crap certainly doesn’t make it TRUE!

  23. Route66

    First “control” (sic) depends on what was in the organizing resolution passed. If, as reported back in January after Tim Johnson’s illness, it does not contain a provision to expire and require a new vote as it did when the Senate composition changes, then the committee chairs and numbers stay the same. Then Reid can have the satisfaction of kicking Lieberman out of the Homeland Security chair and replacing him with a democrat. If it does require a new resolution, then as it was back in 2001, there would be equal seats and committee co-chairs, and Liberman would have to share the chairmanship, which gives him less power. Once he fires that bullet, his gun is as empty as his head.

    As for the Senate itself, it pretty much was going to be a stalemate anway — which still is better than the rubber stamp clowns it was for most of the past 6 years. About all one can expect is for the Congress to slow down further damage by this administration until Bush & Co. are out of office, and hopefully take many of their congressional stooges out with them.

    Too bad we don’t have the power to recall members of congress. Lieberman is an arrogant, self-absorbed putz, who clearly doesn’t give a damn about the citizens he is supposed to represent. Like Bush and Cheney, he seems to think he is above the poeple not working for them. Maybe this was his last term anyway. Sure hope so.