Specter gets a subcommittee after all

The Pennsylvania senator has lost his seniority, but in a deal with his new Democratic colleagues, he'll chair an important subcommittee anyway.

By Alex Koppelman
Published May 7, 2009 3:25PM (EDT)

Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., will get an important chairmanship after all. The senator lost his seniority earlier this week, meaning he's at the bottom rung of the committees on which he serves, and isn't in line to chair any of them anytime soon. But he's now struck a deal with his new Democratic colleagues, and will take over as head of the Judiciary Committee's Crime and Drugs Subcommittee.

The job is a pretty big plum for Specter, as the subcommittee oversees many Justice Department activities. He got it because Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., agreed to give up the chairmanship in order to reform a human rights subcommittee that was dissolved earlier this year because no one had time to lead it.

The Washington Post reports that the move was, at least partially, an attempt to placate Specter and keep him happy after the blow he took earlier. "What we don't want is an angry former Republican during a Supreme Court hearing," one unnamed Democratic staffer told the paper.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Arlen Specter D-pa.