Newly minted Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter — who’s already managed to annoy his new colleagues so much that Democrats yanked his seniority in a sneak move on Tuesday — may now be under more pressure to vote with the party on procedural votes. For example: troubled Office of Legal Counsel nominee Dawn Johnsen, who is short of the 60 votes necessary to end a Republican filibuster.
Specter opposes Johnsen’s nomination but hasn’t said how he will vote on cloture. Asked about it today in the Capitol, the Pennsylvanian said: ”I will talk to Sen. [Harry] Reid about that.” Reid is the Senate Majority Leader. But he remains his independent and cantankerous self. Asked if he would now side with Democrats on all procedural votes, Specter said: ”Don’t make any assumptions.”
An irritated Reid told reporters at today’s pen and pad with the Senate leadership that he is not going to “explain and re-explain” Specter’s moves including whether the Pennsylvania senator would vote with Democrats on cloture.
“I’m not going to talk anymore about him,” he said.
Reid did provide some good news for Johnsen: “I would like to say we are going to push forward on it. I think we have the votes.” He then referred questions on the number of votes that still might be needed to Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
Durbin would not comment on how many votes the Democrats might still need for cloture. He referred questions on the Johnsen vote to Reid.