Senate Dems sidestep seniority

The Senate Democratic leadership circumvented seniority yesterday by making two surprising appointments to the Senate Appropriations and Finance panels. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who lost his seniority after retiring in 2000, was named to the Appropriations panel with Sens. Jack ReedJack ReedDem senators push for probe of Sessions over Comey firing Overnight Finance: Trump floats tying tax reform, infrastructure | Trump trade rep confirmed | Dems raise concerns over banking regulator | House to kick off tax reform hearings Overnight Regulation: Senate GOP looking at how to repeal ObamaCare insurer rules | Dems raise concerns over bank regulator MORE (D-R.I.), and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

Lautenberg, reelected in 2002 after a two-year hiatus, ranks behind several members of the freshman class of 2000, who serve on neither Appropriations nor Finance, the chamber’s two most coveted panels. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Bill NelsonBill NelsonExpanded laptop ban alarms travel industry Why does air travel seem so miserable? Offshore drilling opponents gear up for Gulf fight MORE (D-Fla.) and Tom CarperTom CarperDems seek damage assessment after Trump's meeting with Russians Overnight Energy: Senate panel advances regulatory reform bills Heitkamp breaks with Dems on regulations MORE (D-Del.), each elected in 2000, will stay off those panels for another two years.

Two others, who just won elections to second Senate terms, Sens. Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowDemocrats prod Trump Interior nominee over lobbying work McConnell promises women can take part in healthcare meetings Dems request insider trading investigation into top Trump adviser MORE (D-Mich.) and Maria CantwellMaria CantwellOvernight Energy: Democrats take on key Trump Interior nominee Democrats prod Trump Interior nominee over lobbying work Cohn, Mnuchin visit Capitol Hill to discuss tax reform MORE (D-Wash.), will join Finance next year. But Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) has snagged the third open slot on Finance, leapfrogging Carper, who had lobbied for it. Salazar has four years less Senate seniority than Carper.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinFlynn refusal sets up potential subpoena showdown No. 2 Senate Republican downplays holding contempt vote on Flynn Congress urges Trump administration to release public transit funding MORE (D-Calif.) will serve as chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee. Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) is the ranking Democrat on Rules, but he will instead head the Senate Banking Committee.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) will head the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee despite winning reelection as an independent last week.