Such is the fate of rats. Last week when Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter switched back to the Democratic party it was announced that he would keep his seniority even though it was earned as a member of the opposition party.
That was followed up with reports of Senior Democrats being not too happy with the agreement reached to bring Specter into the party. They didn’t want to be passed over for plum positions just because Harry Reid made a deal. Their opinion was that Specter should receive credit only for the time he served as a Democrat which would place him right behind Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
Today revised committee assignments were voted on by the full Senate and Specter was bumped to the end of the seniority line. He is the junior Senator on every committee he sits on with the exception of the Special Committee on Aging (on that one he is next to last). Somehow it seems so very fitting:
Specter Will Be Junior Democrat on Committees By John Stanton
Despite promises from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) 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 approved on the floor late Tuesday.
Under the modified organizing resolution, Specter will not keep his committee seniority on any of the five committees that he serves on and will be the junior Democrat on all but one — the chamber’s Special Committee on Aging. On that committee, he will be next to last in seniority.
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 now rank behind all the other Democrats, at least until the end of this Congress.
According to a senior Democratic aide, it remains unclear whether Specter — who will still retain his seniority in the Senate outside of the committees — will see a boost in his committee seniority should he be re-elected for the next session. The status of his seniority for the next Congress will be determined once the 112th Congress convenes in 2011, the aide said.
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.”