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Congress: The verdict on Joe

By a 42-13 vote Sen. Joe Lieberman was allowed to keep his Homeland Security Committee chairmanship. "Independent Bernie Sanders and Democrat Pat Leahy, Vermont's two senators, spoke against allowing Lieberman to keep the Homeland Security and Government Affairs post, the Associated Press reported. And two members of Connecticut's Democratic state central committee said they'll still ask it Dec. 17 to consider censuring Lieberman and asking him to resign from the party, the AP said." (The photo, by the way, is classic Lieberman.)

Democrats have welcomed McCain ally Joe Lieberman back into the fold, but some of his Senate colleagues say that he won't be on a long leash

"Two members of Connecticut's Democratic state central committee, Audrey Blondin and Myrna Watanabe, said they'll still ask Connecticut's top Democrats to consider a resolution repudiating Lieberman for publicly backing McCain," AP reports. "It also would ask him to resign from the party. 'Ultimately, there were no consequences to his actions,' Blondin said. A meeting of state Democrats is scheduled for Dec. 17." 
 
After getting off the Senate trolley, McCain received a generic "Welcome back." But "then, a more familiar greeting came from another senator who had been riding in back. 'John, wait up,' called out Senator John F. Kerry, clapping a big hand on McCain's shoulder. The pair conferred quietly as they rode up an escalator toward lunch with their colleagues. Two failed presidential nominees, minus Secret Service detail or much suspense about their futures, back to the Senate -- same as it ever was. Explicitly or not, Kerry's backslap marked McCain's induction into an unofficial bipartisan caucus of would-be commanders in chief who fell short of the big prize and landed, humbled somewhat, back where they started." Interesting note: "[A]t least 17 colleagues now serving know what it's like to take steps toward White House bids, only to be turned back."

More than one influential House Democrat is nervous about the contentious battle for the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee, with the challenge of Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) representing -- for some -- a possible dismantling of the body's time-honored seniority system.  
 
Who says Congress is stodgy? "Elected two weeks ago to represent Utah's third congressional district, [newly elected Rep. Jason] Chaffetz intends to serve how he lives and how he campaigned: frugally. So rather than renting an apartment in Washington, he'll join the ranks of members who sleep in their offices at night and shower each morning in the House gym. He will take his suits to the House dry cleaner and will bundle together his 'socks and undies' to take home every weekend to be washed." 
 
Move over, Texas. In the new Congress, Obama's home state of Hawaii is poised to install two of its favored sons on the Hill in influential positions in the legislature.