May 6th, 2009
07:55 PM ET
13 years ago

Reid says Specter's seniority will be determined by the caucus

(CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told CNN Wednesday that Sen. Arlen Specter's seniority on committees will be determined in the next Congress, but stopped short of pledging the onetime Republican would regain his choice positions on the panels.

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the Senate’s top Democrat suggested he never promised Specter's seniority would carry over when the longtime Pennsylvania Republican decided to join the Democratic Party last week.

"Sen. Specter and his chief of staff always were told that we couldn't interrupt any of the subcommittee chairs or the chairs until the next Congress," Reid said in an interview on The Situation Room. "And his seniority will be determined next Congress."

But Specter told CNN earlier in the day that Reid had in fact promised to honor his seniority when he jumped parties, a pledge that has reportedly riled other Senate Democrats.

"Sen. [Harry] Reid said that I would maintain my committee assignments and that my seniority would be established as if I'd been elected in 1980 as a Democrat," he told CNN's Dana Bash.

In the interview with CNN, Reid said Specter's status on key committees will ultimately be determined by the Democratic Caucus at the start of the next congressional session in 2010.

"All I can say is, every Congress since I've been here, we have a caucus to organize, and we determine seniority," he said. "And that's the way it's always been."

The full Senate voted Tuesday to strip Specter of his seniority, dropping him to the bottom of the 99-member body (a court battle is still underway to determine Minnesota's second senator). The action came on a resolution - passed on a unanimous voice vote - that set out committee assignments for the entire Senate.

Reid noted the resolution did place Specter on the five panels he severed on as a Republican - including the powerful Judiciary and Appropriations Committees - and said too much was being made of "where people sit."

"I think that we kind of exaggerate where people sit - Arlen is a senior member of the Senate, and that's significant," he said. "I think everyone should just kind of relax and understand that he's a Democrat, we're doing our best to make him happy as a Democrat. I think he is."

Filed under: Arlen Specter • Harry Reid
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Mississippi Mike

    Just goes to prove you can't trust a Democrat.

    May 6, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  2. Carolyn in Memphis Tennessee

    They can start by getting rid of all those old coots, who've been in office long enough to grow corn under their toenails.

    May 6, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. skip

    Specter made a big mistake by not supporting the elected Senator from Minnesota. Once a Republican always one he had to let his partisan et in his way.

    May 6, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. J.P.

    At least Specter is finally being honest with himself.

    Or wait... was he being honest with himself when he first switched parties in 1966 to become a Republican? Who knows with linguini spined "conservatives" like Specter.

    One thing is for certain, and the words came from the man's very own mouth: winning re-election is the only thing that is important to Arlen Specter, 45 years worth of voters be damned.

    I appreciate the humor of the two-faced mayor in The Nightmare Before Christmas even more now.

    May 6, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. lou

    After telling us on national TV this weekend that he will not be a loyal democrat and that he thinks Rep norm coleman should be seated in Minnesota, the dems had to take a stand. He's either with his new party or not.

    May 6, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  6. Specter will vote with the GOP

    If Reid takes away Arlen's seniority Specter will jump ship again and return to the GOP to stick it to Reid and the Democrats - and i hope this is what he does

    May 6, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. No Incumbents 2010

    I am amazed that Spector believed the Democrats. What does that say about his judgement?

    May 6, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  8. Sparky

    It wouldn't be the first time that Harry Reid lied. He is truly a scumbag!

    May 6, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  9. coffeeTime

    "Reid noted the resolution did place Specter on the five panels he severed on as a Republican"

    I think you meant to say "served", not "severed."

    May 6, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. phoenix86

    If all goes well for Spector, he will get re-elected as a democrat and get his senority.

    If all goes well for the United States, Spector will be a senior member of the minority party.

    May 6, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. No More Incumbents

    The only seniority he should be entitled to is a senior discount. This guy is a poster child for term limits. Vote all these morons out.

    May 6, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  12. phoenix86

    In other words, for you to be a democrat in this congress, you may not think independently of senile Mr. Reid and Botox Pelosi.

    May 6, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  13. proud army navy mom

    Specter remains me of a rat running in a maze. He closes one door, runs to the other, blocked, takes a couple of detours and still can't find his way.

    The old man should go ahead and retire gracefully. I'm tired of his drama.

    May 6, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Minnesota Frankenless

    Senator Spector only had to look at the treatment Jim Jeffords received when he jumped to know what he was in for. He has no reason to be surprised and he deserves what he's getting.

    May 6, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  15. Tezz

    Specter is an idiot. He really thought he could just say what he wanted and no one would react. I bet this guy comes out for Nat health care in the next few weeks, or he is toast in the 2010 Primary. And i will laugh all the way to the voting booth. Dems for the win BABY!!

    May 6, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  16. Mark

    Spector and Reid deserve each other.. I wish nothing but happiness for the two peas in the pod. They serve themselves nicely.

    May 6, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |