Landrieu not selected to Homeland Security panel

Senate Democratic leaders Tuesday did not select Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., to serve as interim chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, a panel that oversees financing for disaster response important to her state.

          Instead, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, announced that Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., will replace Senator, D-West Va., who died Monday after decades of service in the Senate.

          Landrieu was considered to rank ahead of Lautenberg, though she's only in her third term and Lautenberg was elected to his fifth term in 2008. That's because Lautenberg lost the 18 years of seniority he held when he retired in 2000. He returned to the Senate in 2002, taking the seat of Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., who didn't run for re-election because of ethics issues.

          Landrieu's was visibly unhappy with the decision as she was approached Tuesday morning by a reporter for The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

          "I have spoken to leadership about it, but I've not agreed," Landrieu said. "If anyone is going to be the interim chair, it would probably be myself until things get worked out."

          Later in the day, after she met with Senate Democratic leaders, Landrieu declined to comment. Landrieu has said she doesn't want to make comments on committee assignments only a day after the death of Byrd, whom she praised on the Senate floor Tuesday for his contributions to the nation and Louisiana.

          Democratic staffers said one reason Lautenberg was given the assignment, which lasts through the end of the year, is that he would not have to relinquish any major positions, thereby averting a major shuffling of committee leadership assignments late in the session. If Landrieu got the spot, she would be required to give up either her chairmanship of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee or the ad hoc subcommittee on Disaster Recovery.

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