A Chait reader has an idea:
Reid and the rest of the Dems in the Senate really need to do something about the Senator from Aetna. In the simplest possible terms, one of the key differences between committee chairmen and backbenchers is that chairmen vote with the party on procedure. This relationship between procedural loyalty and the perks of committee chairmanship needs to be made starkly clear to Lieberman.
Just as Holy Joe wants to make the cloture vote a referendum on the bill's passage, Democratic leaders ought to make the cloture vote a referendum on Lieberman's seniority within the caucus.
A vote "no" on cloture should be a vote "no" on retaining seniority status, and with it not only his chairmanship but also his entire slate of committee choices. Whoever is next on the wait lists for Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Small Business gets bumped up onto those committees, and Lieberman gets whatever assignments are left after the other 59 members of the caucus have filled the resulting openings.
Presumably, that would give Lieberman the junior seats on, say, the Rules Committee, the Special Committee on Aging, and the Joint Committees on Printing and the Library. Maybe someone on Reid's staff -- or maybe Schumer's, since this is more his style -- can sort through the committee requests, run the numbers, and quietly pass on to Lieberman the list of committees he would be left with if his seniority were reset to zero as of the day of the cloture vote. Then let Joe see if the GOP is willing to kick any of its own members off of the committees he wants in order to make room for him. If he can cut that deal, fine. If not, then Holy Joe can contemplate exactly how to keep sufficient corporate money coming in to his campaign for 2012 if he has to spend the next three years sitting in the back of the room on the crappiest committees in Washington.