Dodd Stays At Banking
I knew that Tim Johnson would not be permitted to chair the Senate Banking Committee:
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has decided against succeeding his close friend and mentor, the late Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) as chairman of the Senate's health committee, a senior Senate aide said Tuesday night.
The decision sets in motion a final game of musical chairs involving committee chairmanships after Kennedy's death.
Dodd's decision leaves the chairmanship of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who follows Dodd in seniority. Multiple sources in the Harkin orbit, requesting anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said that he is certain to take over the HELP committee.
Harkin is currently chairman of the Agriculture Committee and would have to give up that position. He would likely be replaced at Agriculture by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who faces a difficult reelection bid in 2010. Other Democrats are more senior than her on the Agriculture Committee, but they hold more prestigious chairmanships already.
Dodd isn't great chairing Banking, but he's ten times better than Johnson, and I'd rather have financial regulation in his hands. Meanwhile, Tom Harkin, who's a great liberal except when it comes to agriculture, now goes to a committee to show off his talents. And I think the Senate just gained some leverage over Blanche Lincoln, who will need to be reasonably loyal to keep that slot on the Agriculture Committee. When Max Baucus was foundering there was talk of switching committee chairs, and that should still be on the table for squishes like Lincoln and Joe Lieberman if they participate in a filibuster of policies Democrats have sought for 60 years.