Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) will now serve as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommitee on Homeland Security, a post held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of Senate Appropriations, announced the appointment -- a major political boon for Lautenberg -- this morning.

The Homeland Security subcommittee oversees a multi-billion dollar budget and a range of agencies, including U.S. Customs and Immigration, the Secret Service, and several disaster relief offices.

Lautenberg, who also chairs two minor subcommittees within Commerce and Environment and Public Works, tweeted:

“It is an honor to follow the legendary Sen. Byrd in leading this subcmte and carrying on his work to protect our country," said Lautenberg.

The position will last until January 2011, when the 112th Congress convenes.