Specter Will Be Junior Democrat on Committees
By John Stanton
May 5, 2009
Despite promises from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that Sen. Arlen Specter would retain his seniority after switching parties, Specter will be put at the end of the seniority line on all his committees but one under a resolution expected to be passed on the floor late Tuesday.
As a result, Specter — who as a Republican was ranking member on the Judiciary Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, as well as ranking member of the panel’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education — will rank behind all other Democrats, at least until the end of this Congress.
Democrats said that while unrelated, Specter’s comments to the New York Times Magazine this weekend indicating he would support former Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R-Minn.) disputed re-election bid against Al Franken have angered many Democrats.
“Sen. Specter better watch comments like these. They won’t help him in the caucus,” a Democratic leadership aide said, adding that the comments have ‘caused a lot of heartburn in the caucus.”
The higher a Senator's seniority the more power and committee staff he or she can command. This is a major double cross for Specter and one that he deserves. But the real losers here are the people of Pennsylvania who once had a powerful Senator that could achieve results for the people of his state. That's gone now and in 2010 when Specter asks to be re-elected as a Democrat the voters of Pennsylvania will be able to thank Specter personally.