What Will Chris Dodd Do?
Speaking of Senate Committees, Kennedy's death throws things into a bit of chaos. Tim Fernholz has a good rundown here. The basic lay of the land is this: Everything depend on Chris Dodd, who chairs the Banking Committee and has been effectively chairing the HELP Committee in Kennedy's absence. He must now decide whether he wants to officially leave Banking and chair HELP or stay put. And either decision would shuffled the committees beneath him.
If Dodd leaves, then Tim Johnson, a conservative South Dakotan, is next in line to chair the Banking Committee. But you really don't want a South Dakotan chairing that committee -- the state's economy is heavily dependent on credit card companies seeking a lax regulatory environment -- and Johnson's recent stroke has raised some questions as to whether he's up to the job. If he declines, or is passed over, it goes to Rhode Island's Jack Reed, who would be excellent.
If Dodd doesn't leave Banking, then HELP would go to Iowa's Tom Harkin, who would have to give up his post as Chairman of the Agriculture Committee to take it. The next most senior members of the Ag Committee are Leahy, Conrad and Baucus, all of whom chair more important committees. So Ag would probably go to Blanche Lincoln. If Harkin stays put -- and he is an Iowan, so chairing Ag is worth something to him -- then HELP would go to Maryland's Barbara Mikulski.
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing.
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