Dealt A What?
Um, I hate to break it to the media, but this was the Specter deal.
The Senate dealt a blow tonight to Sen. Arlen Specter's hold on seniority in several key committees, a week after the Pennsylvanian's party switch placed Democrats on the precipice of a 60-seat majority.
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.
"This is all going to be negotiated next Congress," Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), said tonight.
This is no different than what Reid and Specter decided. They both said that Specter would not get seniority until the next Congress, at which point he would come in as if he were elected a Democrat in 1980. The only change here is Manley saying "This is all going to be negotiated next Congress," instead of the seniority issue being locked up and part of the deal. That was never Reid's decision, and once Specter announced it the caucus bared their teeth and showed their anger. Because nothing infuriates Senators like cutting in the seniority line. Clearing the field for a party-switcher and denying the ability of the electorate to choose their nominee? No problem. Cutting in line? How dare YOU sir!
Good optics, maybe, but really nothing different here yet.