Dems in a Snit Over Specter's Cozy Deal

Senate honchos fume as newbie prepares to leapfrog to top jobs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2009 2:20 AM CDT
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., sits on the Democratic side of the aisle during an emergency hearing on swine flu in Washington on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – Some top Democratic senators are rebelling against the deal that brought Arlen Specter into the fold, the Hill reports. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the aisle-crosser he could keep the 28 years of seniority he gained as a GOP senator, infuriating long-serving Democrats whom Specter will now likely leapfrog over to the top of important panels.

"I won’t be happy if I don’t get to chair something because of Arlen Specter,” said Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, currently the fifth most senior Democrat. Some Democrats—who say the party did Specter a favor by letting him switch—plan to vote against him rising to the top of Senate panels. Reid said that nobody will be bumped from any committees until after the 2010 elections, although some wrangling is likely to ensue over Specter's existing assignments.