Still angry Reid defends Lieberman

Senate majority leader reminds Democrats of embattled chairman's support of the party.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday that Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., might still have a future in the Democratic Party, even though Reid and others in the party are angry at Lieberman's dogged support of Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona and criticism of President-elect Obama.

"If we weren't on television, I'd use a stronger word of describing what he did," Reid said on CNN's Late Edition. "But Joe Lieberman votes with me a lot more than a lot of my senators."

Reid said the Democratic Caucus will decide whether Lieberman is able to remain chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, or whether the lawmaker will still be able to caucus with Democrats. Reid urged Democrats to consider the things Lieberman has done for the party.

"For those people beating up on Joe Lieberman -- I've done my share -- recognize the glass being half full, not half empty," Reid said. "I want to remind all of the people that are watching this newscast or however this program is going to air that I would not be majority leader but for his vote."

Lieberman won re-election in Connecticut as an independent, but because he caucused with Democrats the last two years the party was able to maintain a slim 51-49 majority.

Reid also indicated the Senate might not take up a second economic stimulus package during next week's lame-duck session. Reid favors a second stimulus, but he acknowledged that with his expanded majority not due to report to Washington until January, he might not have the support to pass it next week.

"I need votes," Reid said. "So I am going to talk to my Republican counterparts and say, 'are you going to help me get this passed?' If they say no, there is no reason for us ... to have a vote that I know I am going to lose."

Reid said he might find bipartisan support for unemployment insurance legislation next week. "There is a bill that's come from the House, we could vote on that, [and] send it back to them," he said. Reid's comments come after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Friday he did not expect Congress to work on a stimulus package during the lame duck unless an agreement could be reached with President Bush to sign it.

Humberto Sanchez contributed to this story.

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