Aides to Senator-elect Jeff Merkley said the newly elected Oregonian Democrat was "profoundly hurt" by Joe Lieberman's conduct during the 2008 presidential campaign and added that being a committee chair was an honor that came with certain responsibilities.
Nevertheless, they added, the Senator-elect would respect the secrecy of the Tuesday vote that kept Lieberman in his post as Homeland Security chair.
"He did speak at the meeting," said Julie Edwards, Merkley's communications director. "He is someone who cheered for Joe Lieberman in 2000 and Lieberman's words and actions this year were profoundly hurtful to him... The committee chairmanship is a privilege and not a entitlement and Senator-elect Merkley believes that being a member of the leadership comes with certain responsibilities. But at this point he does look forward to putting this behind us."
Sources familiar with today's meeting say that Merkley was one of the few Senators to speak out critically about Lieberman's campaign antics. Both Senators from Vermont -- Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders -- also expressed criticism of the Connecticut independent
"I spoke against the Lieberman motion and voted against it," read a statement from Sanders. "For me, the bottom line is that millions of Americans, with unprecedented energy, worked day and night to get Barack Obama elected and to move our country in a very new direction. I think it's a slap in the face to these activists that someone who opposed those efforts in a very prominent way is awarded with a major committee. Having said that, there is an enormous amount of work that is facing the Senate and we all have to move on and work together to address these issues."
Ultimately, however, Lieberman's fate as a caucusing Democrat was secured as the majority of his colleagues voted to keep him atop the homeland security committee. The resolution agreed upon - which stripped the Senator of his position on an environmental and public works subcommittee - was passed by a 42-13 margin. Addressing reporters after the vote, Majority Leader Harry Reid said of Lieberman: "He's part of this caucus... We are not looking back. We are looking forward."
Senator Dianne Feinstein, meanwhile said her "hope" for Lieberman was "that he becomes a Democrat again."