Today Robert Byrd announced that he will indeed resign as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as I suggested yesterday; he will be succeeded by the relatively youthful Daniel Inouye, a mere 84 years old.
That takes Inouye off the chair of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Next in line for that is Byrd's fellow West Virginian John Rockefeller -- a pup at age 71 -- who won't be able to treat Mountaineers quite as lavishly as Byrd has done at Appropriations, but Commerce Chair is still a pretty good gig for someone who wants to use it. (As opposed to John McCain, who mostly used it to try to determine whether Rafael Palmeiro was on steroids, or Ted Stevens, who infamously used the position to rhapsodize about trucks driving back and forth through the Internet tubes.)
J-Rock would leave open the much-coveted chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence; next in line for that is Dianne Feinstein, 75, of California, who reportedly wants to become the first woman to chair that committee, so she would grab it and drop the chairmanship of the powerful Rules Committee -- unless she really does want to run for Governor in 2010, when Ahnold gets term-limited back to movies.
It gets fun at the Rules Committee, which is where all the powerful folks want to be, but don't necessarily want to chair. Byrd? No. Inouye? No. Dodd? No. Next: Chuck Schumer of New York.
Still following? Next, there's the negotiations with Joe Lieberman over his consolation prize after getting stripped later this month of his chair at Homeland Security -- which will go to Levin, opening Armed Services for Rhode Island's Jack Reed (if Reed doesn't get an administration appointment).
It appears that Majority Leader Reid is offering Connecticut's "Party of Joe" a "lesser" chairmanship to keep him in the party caucus. That might be Small Business, where he would have to be leapfrogged over Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to replace John Kerry, who will be either getting sworn in as Secretary of State, or as his consolation, replacing Joe Biden as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.