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The choice of a successor for the US Senate seat of West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, who died last week, is unlikely to affect congressional approval of President Barack Obama's landmark bid to tighten regulation of the financial industry.
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, who is expected to name Byrd's replacement shortly, is almost certain to appoint a fellow Democrat, keeping the party's effective 59-41 Senate majority.
Here is a look at the selection process and the legislation:
* Manchin postponed naming a replacement until after a week of tributes to Byrd, the longest-serving member of Congress. Byrd died last week aged 92 and was buried on Tuesday.
* Byrd's death complicated efforts to get Senate approval for the financial regulations, which had already been passed by the House of Representatives. Democrats needed to regroup after Byrd's death but they are now hopeful they can muster the needed 60 votes in the 100-member Senate, possibly with the help of the senator's successor.
* Chris Krueger of Concept Capital, a private firm that tracks Washington for investors, said: "I don't think there's any question that whoever Manchin appoints will be a good Democratic soldier who will vote for financial reform."
* John Ullyot, a Republican strategist, said, "Senator Byrd would have voted for it (financial reform), and I suspect so will his successor." Ullyot predicted that the new senator will often side with West Virginia's now senior senator, Jay Rockefeller, like Byrd, a backer of regulatory reform.
* Under present rules, the appointee will hold the seat until November 2012. But there have been growing calls from both parties for Manchin to ask the West Virginia legislature to change state law and allow a special election this November to pick a successor. If the law is changed, Manchin's appointee will hold the seat for just a few months.
* According to a congressional analyst who asked not to be identified, there is talk within the West Virginia Democratic Party that Manchin may name a "caretaker" to hold the seat for a few months and then run for it himself in a special election in November. As a popular governor, he would likely be the favorite, the analyst said.
* Among those reported as being considered by Manchin to succeed Byrd, at least temporarily, are former West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton, state Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio, former state party chairman Nick Casey and former Byrd aide Anne Barth.
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