Tales from the Trail

Specter debuts on the Democratic side of the Senate

April 30, 2009

SENATE/CLINTON/GATESNewly minted Democratic Senator Arlen Specter made a relatively quiet debut as an official Democrat on Thursday — his desk was moved to the other side of the aisle.

Specter also showed up — albeit briefly — at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on President Barack Obama’s request for $83.4 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to provide additional foreign aid to countries like Pakistan.

Specter quietly slipped into the room and sat on the Democratic side of the dais but in the last seat where traditionally the most junior member sits. Specter is expected to stay on the same committees he served on as a Republican and retain his seniority.

The Pennsylvania senator left after spending about 15 minutes or so at the hearing without uttering a word, let alone asking a question of the two witnesses — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

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- Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Specter’s nameplate on the Democrats’ side of the dais at the Senate Appropriations Committee.)

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