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From: J.J. McConnell (e-mail him)
In a huge victory for immigration reform patriots, Pennsylvania's newly minted Democrat Arlen Specter has boxed himself out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be replaced by our strongest ally Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.
According to reports, Sessions and Iowa Senator Charles Grassley have struck a deal wherein Sessions will hold the Judiciary slot until the end of this Congress, and then in 2011 he will move over to take the top Republican position on the Budget Committee. At that time Grassley, who has seniority over Sessions, will take the Judiciary post. [Sessions to Take Top Judiciary Spot, by Ben Pershing, Washington Post, May 4, 2009]
This creates major problems for the Democrats that, unless the unexpected happens, will leave Specter off the committee and out in the cold.
Base on a complex committee ratio formula that was approved in a Senate resolution earlier this year, the Judiciary Committee was set at 11 Democrats and eight Republicans. As of now, there's no room for Specter to join the Judiciary on the Democrat's side.
Assuming the committee keeps the Judiciary 11-8 proportion, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid would be forced to either tell Specter he can't serve on the panel or bump one of its junior members, an awkward move he would prefer to avoid.
The probable targets for displacement would be Sens. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) or Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
Kaufman is Vice President Joe Biden's Senate replacement after having served as his top staffer for years.
And Klobuchar, a former prosecutor, is a rising star in the party, was an early supporter of President Barack Obama's and is one of only two women on the 19-senator committee.
What this all means is that the immigration sub-committee where the ranking Republican is the unreliable Texas Senator John Cornyn must now answer to our hero Sessions instead of the appalling Specter.
And, as an added bonus, it puts Sessions in a position to weigh in more influentially on Obama's Supreme Court nominee to replace David Souter
McDonnell is retired from what he describes as "a very high level" position in municipal government at a major American city. His previous letter about Specter is here..