Updated: 4:29 p.m.Senate Republicans on Wednesday elected Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.) as Conference vice chairman, but they decided not to strip Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) of her ranking member slot on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.Murkowskis office released a statement Wednesday in which the lawmaker simply said, I look forward to continuing to serve as the Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.Barrasso replaces Murkowski in the leadership lineup; Murkowski resigned the position after losing her GOP Senate primary to Joe Miller last month. She is now waging a write-in campaign to try to keep the seat in the general election. Senators made the decision to promote Barrasso and keep Murkowski atop the Energy panel during a closed-door meeting Wednesday.Senate GOP leaders, frustrated by Murkowskis decision to mount a write-in bid, on Tuesday had asked the Conference to strip her of her ranking member position on the Energy panel. But on Wednesday, Republicans decided to take a different tack.Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) refused Wednesday to discuss why the GOP allowed Murkowski to keep her committee role, saying only that we had a discussion in our conference on other matters including that and decided not to take any action.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.