The Senate passed a resolution Tuesday night that made him the most junior Democrat on the committees on which he serves.
The resolution passed after leaders of both political parties, along with Specter, reached an agreement. The seniority issue will be looked at again after the 2010 election according to a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
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Specter, 79, is seeking a sixth term next year in Pennsylvania. He has said he made the decision to end his four-decade relationship with the Republican Party because he was unlikely to win the nomination in a party that has grown increasingly conservative.
Specter serves on the Appropriations, Judiciary, Veterans Affairs, Environment and Public Works, and Special Aging committees.
He was the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. That committee will soon conduct hearings on a Supreme Court nominee to replace the retiring Justice David Souter.
When Republicans were in the majority, Specter chaired the confirmation hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. He now will have to wait in line to question the nominee.
Specter also held the top Republican post on the subcommittee that funds the National Institutes of Health. The issue is a personal one for him because he has twice battled cancer.
The power-stripping move comes amid a couple of other key developments: Tom Ridge floating the "I'm very interested" balloon after this week's poll found he is Specter's biggest re-election threat. And there is a bit of buzz developing over questions about Specter's new Web site, SpecterfortheCure. With a name like that and the way it's formatted, do people really get that it's a fund-raising site for re-election?
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