The speculation is all under the radar, but rumor has it there's a movement afoot to remove the aging Sen. Byrd as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the politely stated reason being, "he’s no longer physically up to the job." Thinking back on the last couple of times I've seen the venerable Senator speak, I might suggest the real reason is he's simply becoming a bit senile.
Sure, he has moments of lucidity and can still sometimes deliver up some inspiring rhetoric, but it's punctuated with odd references to his puppy dog. Tradition and honor for the elder statesmen is a wonderful thing, but as a practical matter, this is powerful committee that needs an able chair. Making him honorary chair for life, while the business end is conducted by an acting chair, seems sufficiently respectful of his senority to me.
In fact, the Democrats would do well to rethink the whole scheme of assigning high positions based on senority altogether. While it does leave the assignments somewhat vulnerable to politicalization, it still makes sense to institute a merit-based policy. Maybe then, we could get rid of Reid too. If the Democrats based leadership on performance, Reid would surely fail the test.