Sen. Richard Shelby, the senior Republican and former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is noticeably absent from the financial bailout negotiations taking place on Capitol Hill this week.

The news that Sen. Robert Bennett, the panel's No. 2 Republican, would participate in the bipartisan, bicameral dealmaking on the most costly financial services measure Congress has ever considered came during a television interview Wednesday night, when House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank referred to the Utah Republican as the "acting ranking member."

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