Switch costs Specter committee seniority

May 6, 2009 at 10:52 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- Abandoning the Republican Party cost Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., his seniority on five committees.

On a voice vote Tuesday, the Senate stripped the 29-year veteran lawmaker of his committee seniority, a move that made Specter the most junior Democrat on four of the five committees on which he serves, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. Specter will be the second lowest in seniority on the fifth committee.

When announcing his party switch last week, Specter said Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada assured him he would keep his seniority in the Senate and on the committees. Specter's tenure ranked him ahead of all but seven Democrats.

Democrats suggested that they would consider revisiting Specter's seniority at the committee level after the 2010 midterm elections.

"This is all going to be negotiated next Congress," Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, told the Post.

Specter's office did not comment.

Meanwhile, Specter retreated from statements he made to The New York Times Magazine in an interview to be published Sunday, the Post said. He commented about how Norm Coleman of Minnesota could possibly win his legal contest and reclaim his Senate seat, ensuring that there would still be at least one Jewish Republican in the chamber. Coleman is appealing a recount that gave Democrat Al Franken, the former "Saturday Night Live" writer and performer, a 312-vote lead.

Specter told Congressional Quarterly Tuesday: "In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates. I'm ordinarily pretty correct in what I say. I've made a career of being precise. I conclusively misspoke."

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