Aides to defeated Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) won’t be getting a gold watch. But they will receive a severance package to keep them financially afloat as they look for new jobs, thanks to a resolution passed by the Senate just before it adjourned early Sunday morning.
The package is far short of the “golden parachutes” that go along with top corporate jobs, but it could help ease some of the financial and emotional pain that Daschle’s staff has experienced after his stinging loss.
The resolution, titled “Displaced staff members of senators and Senate leaders,” modifies Senate rules to provide up to two months’ pay and benefits to leadership staff or personal-office aides when the senator they work for is defeated in the elections. Daschle was the only incumbent senator to be defeated this year.
“It’s a decent thing to do to people who won’t have a job anymore,” one Senate Republican aide said.
Under the resolution, which was worked out between senior Democratic and Republican leadership aides and passed with no fanfare by unanimous consent, aides must have worked for a senator or Senate leader for at least 183 days to get the benefit. They must work for a senator who ran for reelection and lost, so aides to senators who announced their retirement would not be eligible.
The severance would begin after Jan. 3, when Daschle will no longer be a senator, and would stop as soon as eligible staffers got new jobs. The new Senate will be sworn in Jan. 4. (The Senate passed a resolution switching the swearing-in date for new senators to Tuesday, Jan. 4, allowing senators to begin the new session after a three-day weekend).
Previous resolutions, in 1984 and 1993, provided the same severance to staff of members who die in office or resign during their term or to committee staff who lose their jobs because a senator loses his chairmanship or ranking member slot.