Several Democrats are furious with Sen. Reid (D-Nev.) for agreeing to let Specter (Pa.) keep his seniority, accrued over more than 28 years as a GOP senator. That agreement would allow Specter to leap past senior Democrats on powerful panels — including the Appropriations and Judiciary committees.
“I won’t be happy if I don’t get to chair something because of Arlen Specter,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who sits on the Appropriations Committee with Specter and is fifth in seniority among Democrats, behind Chairman Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) and Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Tom Harkin (Iowa). “I’m happy with the Democratic order, but I don’t want to be displaced because of Arlen Specter,” she said.
In just a week Specter has managed to rub his new colleagues’ noses in it, going off the reservation in votes, statements about future votes, and on national television.
Hilariously, the resolution officially moving Specter to the Democratic side of the aisle stripped him of his seniority:
In a unanimous voice vote, the Senate approved a resolution that added Specter to the Democratic side of the dais on the five committees on which he serves, an expected move that gives Democrats larger margins on key panels such as Judiciary and Appropriations.
But Democrats placed Specter in one of the two most junior slots on each of the five committees for the remainder of this Congress, which goes through December 2010. Democrats have suggested that they will consider revisiting Specter’s seniority claim at the committee level only after the midterm elections next year.
So I had it right last week: refusing to tow the Democratic party line earns you a primary cleared of opponents, but not your precious seniority. Proving once again that Senate Democrats (and their President) don’t care about a progressive agenda, just sitting a bit closer to the middle of the committee dais. Democracy is so awesome.