In a closed-door meeting, Democrats voted to allow Sen. Joe Lieberman to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee, instead opting to strip him of a subcommittee chairmanship on climate change as punishment for support John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. If any punishment was to be given, this move makes little sense given that Lieberman is actually still a good Democrat as far as environmental issue go, but opposes President-elect Obama and most Democrats on many issues relating to Homeland Security (and had failed to conduct any real oversight over the Bush administration since he’s been in charge).
Democrats no doubt went with such toothless action in response to his threats to join the Republican caucus. However, it is hard to see what real effect this would have had. Being a part of a certain caucus doesn’t determine how you’ll vote 100% of the time, just how you’ll vote for majority leader of the Senate. Moderate Republicans vote for some bills that most Democrats do, and vice versa. Lieberman already isn’t voting with Democrats on issues relating to foreign policy and national security, and he is unlikely to have changed on economic issues where he is still mostly votes with Democrats.
However, if Lieberman had been stripped of his most important chairmanship and bolted to the Republican Party, it would have seriously hurt his re-election chances in 2012 in the very blue state of Connecticut. Let us hope that this move does not help that bid in any way.