Skip to comments.Chuck, Hil losing pull in Senate
Posted on 11/17/2002 1:36:17 AM PST by kattracks
WASHINGTON - The GOP's Senate takeover will freeze Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton out of power, testing the New York Democrats' political bridge-building skills in the clubby chamber.
With the defeat or retirement of colleagues, Schumer and Clinton will move up 10 rungs on the seniority ladder - but they'll become backbenchers.
With all Democrats booted from their committee chairmanships, Schumer loses a prized judiciary subcommittee chair which he used to hammer President Bush's judicial appointments. And there's a chance that Clinton, the state's junior senator, could be booted from a committee to make way for a Republican.
The Democrats will descend into the minority as soon as this week, when Senator-elect Jim Talent's victory in Missouri is expected to be certified.
That will give Republicans 50 of the 100 seats, with Vice President Cheney breaking the tie for the GOP. In January, Republicans will hold at least 51 seats.
Schumer and Clinton insisted the pain of the power shift will be softened by quirky Senate rules that give every senator key powers - and that the GOP's narrow majority will keep them relevant.
"Look, the bottom line is you'd rather not" relinquish power, Schumer conceded. "But fortunately, [in] the Senate, energy [and] hard work mean more than being in the majority."
"I don't think it'll change much at all," Clinton echoed. "The margin is still very tight and we have to build coalitions and relationships on both sides of the aisle to get anything done."
Said Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), a centrist deal maker: "Each senator has the ability to greatly influence legislation regardless of which party's in power."
Though it may happen, Clinton aides said it is highly unlikely she will lose her seat on one of her three committees.
This won't be known until party leaders renegotiate committee ratios following Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's hotly contested Dec. 7 runoff in Louisiana.
However, Clinton will definitely lose the authority delegated by Democratic leaders to call hearings to scrutinize the Federal Emergency Management Agency's post-Sept. 11 aid to New York. Aides insisted Clinton's strong relationship with FEMA chief Joe Allbaugh will compensate.
Schumer, meanwhile, will immediately lose his leverage to attack - and sometimes kill - Bush's judicial nominations.
"We're going to have to pick our shots with judges," Schumer said. "I'm going to have to work hard to get some moderation on judges."
The switch is also virtually certain to postpone efforts by both senators to get better committee assignments.
Both say they've worked hard to bond with GOP colleagues, but not all Republicans in the chamber agree. One senator, who chose to remain anonymous, used an expletive to describe the New Yorkers' occasional behavior as they enjoyed the power of majority status.
"You can't get help if you don't give help or you're not considerate," the senator said.
But, said Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) - whose jump from the GOP put Democrats in power last year - Schumer and Clinton are "both superb" at building bipartisan relationships.
This whole seniority thing assumes that the voters will keep sending them back election after election. Senators have six year terms, so that's a long time between elections. I wonder, if the state legislature of New York got to choose the senators, who would they send?
Mr. Jeffords we are not all from Vermont.
Some Americans can still read, write, and understand the meaning of words.
And preview's buddy is ieSpell. Available for free from www.iespell.com
They're both irrelevant, and deserve to be ridiculed at every opportunity!!!!
Can't these two come up with some new cliches?
That would be sweet!!!
Oh, but for Trent Lott, I'm sure he will capitulate to her demands
Lott has nothing to do with it. The Leadership decides how many Republicans and how many Dins will be on each Committee and sub-committee. Each party then fills their assigned slots.
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