In a surprise move, Senate Republicans today decided to let recent party pariah Lisa Murkowski keep her ranking position on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The reigning sense was that Murkowski would be booted for North Carolina's Richard Burr, the next in line on the committee seniority-wise, in recompense for her write-in challenge to the party's Senate nominee in Alaska.
The Hill's headline as of this morning didn't even hedge the issue, declaring, "Murkowski punished over defiance; Burr to get top energy slot." In conversations I had with representatives of environmentalist and renewable energy groups this morning, the assumption was that Burr would be the new ranking member.
Yet in today's Republican caucus meeting today, CNN's Dana Bash and Ted Barrett report, Republican senators decided to not even broach the issue:
A GOP source in the room tells CNN, despite anger towards Murkowski, the conference decided not to even take up the question of the Senate Energy Committee post because "there was a sense that she's resigned her leadership post, she lost her primary, she will probably lose her race, and she'll be gone. She will not be ranking [Republican] because she will not be here."
Murkowski has already been severely chastised by the GOP, with Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pressuring her to step down from her post as vice-chair of the Senate Republican Conference before announcing her write-in bid. Murkowski complied, and her colleagues voted today to replace her on the conference with Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso.