Harkin, Again, Hints At Consequences For Off-The-Reservation Chairmen

Congressional Quarterly/Newscom
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Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)–chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee is rare among senior Senate Democrats. Whereas many in the party view seniority as akin to tenure, Harkin thinks it should come with responsibility. And when powerful chairmen stray, he doesn’t keep quiet.

“[Lieberman] still wants to be a part of the Democratic Party although he is a registered independent,” Harkin said. “He wants to caucus with us and, of course, he enjoys his chairmanship of the [Homeland Security] committee because of the indulgence of the Democratic Caucus. So, I’m sure all of those things will cross his mind before the final vote.”

Lieberman suggested this week that he’ll filibuster health care reform legislation if it includes a public option.That’s even more explicit than his warning, two months ago, that Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) might face repercussions for dragging out the health care reform process for months as chairman of the Finance Committee.

“Every two years the caucus could have a secret ballot on whether a chairman should continue, yes or no,” Harkin said. “If the ‘no’s win, [the chairman’s] out.

Of course, the question is, How many Democrats feel the same way?

(H/T: Washington Independent)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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