Not since the electoral defeat of Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens departed has the Senate had a president pro tempore emeritus.
That's the relatively new title that has been attached to senior member of the minority party in the Senate when that senator has previously served in the constitutional office of president pro tempore. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., held the title, as did Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., and Stevens. And that has come along with an additional budget.
But Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., will have no such additional budget when he cedes the role of president pro tempore to his longtime Judiciary Committee colleague Orrin G. Hatch of Utah in the new Congress. Leahy called the Republican-driven decision to not provide funding for the ceremonial office in the end-of-the-year "cromnibus" spending bill "kind of petty." "They didn't keep their commitment. They want to treat us differently than we treated them, and so they've got that right. It seems kind of petty, but it really doesn't matter to me," Leahy told CQ Roll Call. "I've got plenty of funding, plenty of good staff."
While some aides were generally tight-lipped about what actually transpired, one Democratic aide said the request was for $280,000, and that it was stripped out late in the negotiations. The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that a disagreement between Leahy and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., briefly held up the spending bill negotiations.
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