Friday, November 07, 2008

Senate Shuffle

Sen. Robert Byrd has decided to voluntarily step down as chairman of the Appropriations Committee which could set off a chain reaction:

First, Byrd’s departure paves the way for Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii to take over Appropriations.

Inouye will then give up the chairmanship of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which could be taken over by Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who is next in line on that committee.

Rockefeller's move opens up the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is next in line on that committee, and Democratic sources said she is interested in becoming chairwoman. Rockefeller’s office would not comment on his future plans.

Feinstein, for her part, chairs the Rules and Administration Committee, and would have to give that up. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) could end up as chairman of that panel, since the other senators who are more senior to him there already wield gavels on other committees, and senators usually don’t chair two committees.

More exciting is the potential for the great Sen. Russ Feingold to become head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Joe Biden, the curren chair, has just been elected as the next Vice President. Sen. Chris Dodd has decide to stay head of the Banking Committee, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. If Sen. John Kerry joins President-elect Obama's cabinet as Secretary of State, Feingold would be next in line.

Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Lieberman is in talks with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to join the Republican caucus if Democrats remove him as chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Lieberman's fate may be put up to a caucus vote.

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