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Murkowski Keeps Panel Job; Barrasso Elected Vice Chairman

Updated: 4:29 p.m.

Senate Republicans on Wednesday elected Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.) as Conference vice chairman, but they decided not to strip Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) of her ranking member slot on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Murkowski’s office released a statement Wednesday in which the lawmaker simply said, “I look forward to continuing to serve as the Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.”

Barrasso replaces Murkowski in the leadership lineup; Murkowski resigned the position after losing her GOP Senate primary to Joe Miller last month. She is now waging a write-in campaign to try to keep the seat in the general election. Senators made the decision to promote Barrasso and keep Murkowski atop the Energy panel during a closed-door meeting Wednesday.

Senate GOP leaders, frustrated by Murkowski’s decision to mount a write-in bid, on Tuesday had asked the Conference to strip her of her ranking member position on the Energy panel. But on Wednesday, Republicans decided to take a different tack.

Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) refused Wednesday to discuss why the GOP allowed Murkowski to keep her committee role, saying only that “we had a discussion in our conference on other matters including that and decided not to take any action.”

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