Pressure is mounting within the Senate Democratic caucus to strip Sen. Joseph Lieberman of senior committee positions if he defeats Democratic nominee Ned Lamont in Connecticut, but Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is expected to beat that back.
Lieberman will remain part of the Democratic caucus even though he would be elected as an independent after losing to Lamont in the Democratic primary. Many liberal senators, angry with Lieberman for supporting President Bush on Iraq, don’t want him to chair a committee in a Democratic-controlled Senate. He now is senior Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee.
Reid says nothing publicly but is expected to save Lieberman. Disciplining fellow Democrats is not Reid’s style, and Lieberman’s vote could be crucial in taking Senate control from the Republicans. Reid and Lieberman also have a particularly close personal relationship.
Voting on Bolton
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will meet Sept. 7 for a second try at recommending confirmation of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, but it may fail again for lack of Republican unanimity.
Republican Sen. George Voinovich, who deprived Bolton of a favorable committee vote in 2005, has changed his mind because of Bolton’s performance at the UN under President Bush’s recess appointment. However, Sen. Chuck Hagel, the committee’s second-ranking Republican, has been less impressed by Bolton. He will decide his course based on a meeting with the UN ambassador after Labor Day.
Even if Hagel votes no, the committee could send Bolton to the Senate floor with an unfavorable recommendation as it did last year. The issue is whether the Democratic leadership will block his confirmation with a filibuster.
A political indicator of hard times ahead for Republicans is frantic activity during the current congressional recess by GOP staffers contemplating life under a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
Several Republican aides, including many working for House members from safe seats, are seeking employment elsewhere. Most of them have never worked under Democratic control and dread the prospect of minority status on Capitol Hill.
Other aides, working on House committee staffs, would lose those jobs in a Democratic House and want to transfer now to work for safe Republican members.
Sen. John Kerry has included Sen. Daniel Akaka, a 16-year Senate veteran facing a serious threat in the Sept. 24 Hawaii Democratic primary, among three endangered anti-war Senate candidates in a personal appeal for funds.
A recent e-mail dispatched by Kerry (“Support Strong Leaders Who Aren’t Afraid to Tell the Truth About Iraq”) requests funds for the campaigns of Sen. Bob Menendez in New Jersey, Ned Lamont in Connecticut and Akaka. Menendez was recently appointed to the Senate, and Lamont is opposing Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Akaka until recently had been considered a safe incumbent but now faces a formidable primary challenge by Rep. Ed Case, first elected to Congress in 2002.
Akaka lost prestige this year when he failed to pass his signature bill to give native Hawaiians the status of an Indian tribe. He has stopped his practice of always following his powerful senior Hawaiian colleague, Sen. Daniel Inouye, even when he deserts the Democratic party line. Akaka did not join Inouye recently in voting for the offshore oil-drilling bill.
Money for Patrick
A contributor to the re-election campaign of Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island will gain admission to a “New England clambake dinner” Saturday Oct. 7 at the famous Kennedy compound on Cape Cod in Hyannis, Mass.
Washington lobbyists received solicitations from the congressman and his father and stepmother, Sen. and Mrs. Edward M. Kennedy. Requested contributions were $1,000 per person, $5,000 per host, $10,000 for a co-chair and $20,000 for a chair.
Even a chairmanship will not buy an overnight stay at the Kennedy compound. “Reservations are suggested at the Four Points by Sheraton in Hyannis,” says the invitation.