Dissatisfied with his handling of the appropriations process this year, Senate Democrats are considering ways to oust Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia from his Chairmanship of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. John Bresnahan reports for The Politico:
Under one scenario being circulated in Democratic circles, the 90-year-old Byrd would be named “chairman emeritus,” and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would become “acting chairwoman” for the remainder of the 110th Congress.
Democratic insiders caution, though, that no decision has been made.
But there is broad discontent among committee members over the way Byrd has run the panel this year and the resulting problems in completing work on the fiscal 2008 spending bills, leading some members to privately push for Byrd’s replacement as chairman.
His physical condition has been slowly deteriorating for years, and he cannot walk now without the assistance of aides.
Read the whole story at the above link. When Strom Thurmond’s abilities had deteriorated, Republicans convinced him to voluntarily yield his Armed Services Chairmanship – but only in the next term, and only after quietly indicating it was in the Senator’s own interests. Byrd may not be ready to “go gently into that good night,” and is still a very powerful man, which explains why no one will go on the record about this potential coup attempt. A failed coup would mean tough sledding for the offenders’ states in the pork department.
Byrd has obviously lost a few steps, but replacing him with Patty Murray? She could well be the dumbest person on Capitol Hill. That may be the unkindest cut of all.
Leaking the plan may be designed to put pressure on Byrd to step down.