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The House Republican Conference approved Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ (Fla.) assignment to the Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday. The freshman lawmaker also sits on the Homeland Security and Veterans’ Affairs committees. [IMGCAP(1)]

“I am elated to hear of Gus’s appointment to the Foreign Affairs Committee. His leadership in foreign policy and national security will be an asset to our work, said committee ranking member and fellow Florida Republican Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, who added that Bilirakis will be a “crucial member” of the committee.

Charles in Charge. Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) announced Friday that Charles Kieffer will take over as chief of staff for the committee, following the retirement of Congressional staff veteran Terry Sauvain last week.

Sauvain, who spent 40 years on Capitol Hill, was Byrd’s chief of staff for the past six years, and Kieffer has served the past four years as Byrd’s chief of staff on the Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security. Kieffer also has served as Byrd’s deputy staff director on the full committee.

“Chuck has proved time and again how invaluable his expertise is,” said Byrd in a statement.

Byrd spokesman Tom Gavin added that in addition to his 16 years of experience with the Office of Management and Budget and seven years at the Department of Health and Human Services, Kieffer played the trombone in the Washington Redskins’ band for more than two decades.

— Susan Davis and Emily Pierce

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