Senate Democrats have hit the roof after discovering that Harry Reid’s deal with Arlen Specter to get him to switch parties, especially allowing Specter to keep his seniority. The Senate Democratic Caucus has decided that Reid doesn’t have the last word on seniority and assignments and will take a vote on how to apply Specter’s seniority for committee assignments. And with Card Check on the table, they have selected a rather ironic process for that decision:
“We’re going to do as we do every new Congress and pass an organizational resolution that will determine where everybody stands and that will give him an opportunity to find out who his pals are in the Senate,” Reid said at a question-and-answer session sponsored by The National Journal Group.
Senior Democrats who could lose a plum committee or subcommittee post to Specter would almost certainly vote against granting the seniority that he would have been granted as a Democrat elected in 1980.
One senior lawmaker who spoke to The Hill on condition of anonymity said that Reid does not have the power to let Specter keep his seniority earned as a Republican.
“That can’t happen; seniority is decided by the caucus,” said the lawmaker, who said Specter’s place in the pecking order would be decided by secret ballot during the organizational meeting expected after the 2010 election.
Decided by secret ballot. Now, why would they need to do that? Why not just use the same process that the Democrats want to force on the American worker, where they have to publicly sign a card and make themselves accountable to their peers for their choice on whether to organize? Have the Democrats suddenly discovered the vakue of a secret ballot in keeping undue pressure out of the election process?
It’s not the first time that Democrats have insisted on secret ballots in Congressional organizing votes, either. Last November, Henry Waxman wrested the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee from John Dingell in a House secret-ballot election, and Joe Lieberman kept his chair on Homeland Security after Senate Democrats determined not to punish him for his independent bid in another secret ballot. Neither Democratic caucus wanted its members held individually accountable for their votes on either vote, and that’s exactly why we have secret-ballot elections in all circumstances.
Too bad the Democrats don’t think that working men and women deserve the same consideration they demand for themselves.