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Reid: Lieberman's Chairmanship Is Safe

It didn't go over well among Democrats when Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, who has backed John McCain for president, criticized Barack Obama on Israel just one day after Obama's historic nomination clinching victory.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says Lieberman's committee chairmanship is safe and Lieberman remains an important vote for Democrats.

"I'm not about to threaten anybody," Reid told reporters Thursday afternoon. "... Joe Lieberman is an important vote for this caucus."

Indeed, in a Senate divided 51-49, Lieberman's vote on virtually every other issue outside of the war in Iraq can be critical. Reid pointed out that the Democratic budget resolution would not have passed Wednesday without Lieberman's vote. Lieberman has called himself an "Independent Democrat" ever since he lost the Connecticut Democratic primary in 2006 _ a loss largely attributed to his support of the war in Iraq.

On Wednesday in the Senate chamber, Obama very publicly cornered Lieberman and had a direct, but not heated, conversation in the corner of the chamber.

Some Democrats have speculated that a greatly expanded Democratic Senate majority would allow Reid more leverage to yank Lieberman's chairmanship as punishment for supporting McCain, but there is no such movement afoot, Reid says.

"We'll let the future decide what's gonna be," Reid said.

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