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Senator Switches Teams, Undermines Republicans

U.S. Republican Senator, James Jeffords, 67, of Vermont looks step to make history in a party switch from the Republicans which would strip the GOP of its Senate control and curtail President Bush's ability to pass legislation and place conservative judges on the bench.

Jeffords has told associates that he would become an independent. Republicans have responded by redoubling their efforts to coax the maverick back into the fold and promising a seat at a leadership table.

Jeffords says he would align himself with the Democrats for organisational purposes.

An unprecedented power sharing agreement in effect since the 50-50 Senate was sworn in last year would automatically dissolve and Democrats would displace Republicans as committee chairmen.

"This is an enormous shift in influence in the Federal Government because it's about controlling the legislative agenda," said Sen. Bob Torricella (D) New Jersey.

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