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Clinton’s Making the Rounds

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has begun meeting with Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in an effort to win approval of her nomination as secretary of State.

Clinton plans to meet Wednesday afternoon with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), the ranking member on the panel. She also met quietly Monday with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the expected incoming chairman. Both Kerry and Lugar had been previously mentioned as possible contenders for secretary of State.

Congressional Democrats plan to quickly confirm top officials of President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet following the presidential inauguration Jan. 20, but Clinton’s nomination has encountered a constitutional problem. The Constitution prevents a Member of Congress from serving in confirmable positions in the executive branch, if that department received a salary increase when the lawmaker was in office.

One source said the Foreign Relations Committee is planning to hold hearings on the Clinton nomination before Obama takes office, but a date has not been determined.

Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced that he plans to hold hearings beginning Jan. 8 on Eric Holder, Obama’s choice to be the next attorney general. Holder has already met with Leahy, Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the top Republican on Judiciary, and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Clinton has yet to meet with Reid on her State appointment.

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