Robert Byrd not to go quietly into the night….

Senator Robert Byrd– 90 years old, the longest serving senator in the U.S. history, former Senate Majority Leader, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and as the president pro tem of the Senate is the third in line in constitutional succession to the President– if pushing back in a hard way against reports that there are efforts by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to push Byrd out as chair of the Appropriations Committee.

From CQ politics:

Sen. Robert C. Byrd is serving notice that he will not relinquish the gavel of the Appropriations Committee quietly as Democratic leaders consider whether to replace 90-year-old West Virginian before the start of the new Congress.

Because of his age and health, Byrd’s hold on the chairmanship has been an open question. Byrd, the longest-serving senator in the history of the chamber, beat back attempts to replace him earlier in the year. But the issue has come up again as Democrats look past next week’s election, when they believe they will not only build on their majorities in the House and Senate but also win the presidency.

Byrd made clear Tuesday he was not happy about any talks that concern replacing him as the head of one of Congress’ most powerful committees. Most recently, Politico, citing anonymous sources, reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., has discussed with Sen. Daniel K. Inouye , the committee’s second-ranking Democrat, the possibility of having the Hawaiian replace Byrd as chairman.

“I am disappointed that, according to press accounts, the Majority Leader is talking to others about the Chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee,” Byrd said in a statement. “This is the sort of Washington back-room gossip which ill serves the Democratic Party in a year when Democratic unity should be paramount.”

Meanwhile, Reid is making no commitments. More from CQ:

Reid’s office left Byrd’s future somewhat ambiguous.

“Senator Byrd has ably served the people of West Virginia as a member of the Democratic caucus and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee for more than 50 years,” said Reid spokesman Jim Manley. “At the beginning of each Congress, the Democratic Caucus determines committee membership. Unless something changes, Senator Byrd will continue to be Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.”

Also: Increasing noise that Joe Lieberman will also lose his committee chairmanship. That is more of a done deal. Will be reporting more on both.

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