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Up Next: Sen. Byrd’s Gavel?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democratic leaders are hoping to have the future of the Appropriations Committee chairmanship resolved by the time lawmakers return on Nov. 17 for the lame-duck session, Democratic sources said Thursday. For months, Reid and other leaders have struggled to find a way to address an ailing Appropriations chairman, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who has struggled in recent months to lead the powerful panel. Although he served as chairman during this Congress, Byrd’s declining health has severely limited his ability to conduct business meetings or actively participate in negotiations with the House. Reid has reportedly considered making him honorary chairman and turning the reins over to Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), but Byrd has apparently resisted those efforts. Reid appears to be moving this week to do as much house cleaning as possible. On Thursday, he held the first of what he termed “a number” of conversations with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (ID-Conn) regarding his future within the Democratic caucus. Lieberman’s chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has been in peril since he endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president. A spokesman for Reid declined to comment.

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