After months of speculation, the decision on whether Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., will keep his committee post is expected to come down to a secret vote on Tuesday.
Senate Democrats will cast ballots over Lieberman's fate as committee chairman, a momentous event that could determine whether the Connecticut senator continues to caucus with the Democrats or joins forces with Republicans.
Many Democrats say Lieberman should be punished for campaigning aggressively for Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain in the presidential race and for criticizing President-elect Obama at the GOP convention in September.
"I'm one who does not feel that somebody should be rewarded with a major chairmanship after doing what he did," Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Friday on Vermont Public Radio.
"I felt some of the attacks that he was involved in against Sen. Obama ... went way beyond the pale," Leahy added. "I thought that they were not fair, I thought they were not legitimate, I thought that they perpetuated some of these horrible myths that were being run about Sen. Obama."
Other key Democrats have softened their stance somewhat and would like to see Lieberman continue to caucus with them. Indeed, Obama has said he held "no grudges" against Lieberman and has urged Reid not to drive him out of the Caucus.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., believes the Democratic Caucus "should be gracious in victory toward Lieberman," according to an aide for the Illinois Democrat.
"Despite what Sen. Lieberman did in campaigning for Sen. McCain and speaking at the Republican convention, he has voted with Democrats an overwhelming percentage of the time," Durbin said in a statement last week.
Aides said a deal could be reached with Lieberman under which he would keep some committee leadership assignments.
If Lieberman is stripped of the gavel, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, is next in line to replace him. Aides said Akaka is interested in the chairmanship, but so is Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del.