Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) says he has an agreement with Majority Leader Harry Reid to become the next chairman of the Judiciary Committee, but three senior Democrats are blocking the deal, reports The Hill. For the change to happen, however, Specter has to win re-election, and Daniel Inouye (D-Hi.), current chairman of the Appropriations Committee, who is up for re-election this year, must leave, clearing the way for Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), to head Appropriations.
When Specter switched to the Democratic Party almost a year ago, he was given the last seat on the dais of the Judiciary and Appropriations panels. He has been a model member of the Democratic Conference, voting with party leaders more than 95 percent of the time, and worked to convince his fellow Democrats to support his deal with Reid. Three Democrats elected to the Senate after Specter, Sens. Herb Kohl (Wi.), Dianne Feinstein (Ca.) and Russ Feingold (Wi.), have balked at letting him cut ahead of them in line for the Judiciary gavel.