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Waiting Game on Byrd Replacement to End This Weekend

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) plans to announce his pick for a temporary successor to late Sen. Robert Byrd (D) sometime between Friday and Sunday.

“In a perfect world, Friday night I make an appointment,” he told The Associated Press yesterday. “In a perfect world, by Monday I make my announcement of what my intentions are.”

The news comes as relief to Democrats who worried that Manchin might delay his decision until as late as this fall. It also means the Senate will soon be able to move forward with a host of bills that still need a 60th vote of support — most notably the unemployment benefits extension and the financial regulatory reform bill. Assuming Byrd’s replacement takes office next week, the extension will likely be signed into law by the last week in July.

There has been a great deal of pressure from national Democrats for Manchin to appoint someone quickly — and some criticism that he has moved too slowly. For comparison’s sake, I should note that he has taken about the same amount of time to make an appointment as other governors have in the recent past. For example, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) waited until nearly a month after Ted Kennedy’s death last year to name a replacement. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) waited a little less than three weeks before appointing someone to the state’s open Senate seat after Sen. Craig Thomas (R) died in 2007. Byrd died June 28, a little more than two weeks ago.

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