Harkin Moves To Health Committee Chair After Dodd Opts Against It
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., wrestled hard with the question of whether to take the Senate Health Committee chair once held by his good friend, the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. But when he passed on it, Sen. Tom Harkin got the job in an arrangement that gives the Iowa Democrat a huge say in government health policy.
Politico reports: "Dodd said Wednesday that he'd made the 'right decision' in passing up the chance to succeed Sen. Ted Kennedy as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. But that doesn't mean it was easy. Dodd spent the weekend soliciting advice from his Senate colleagues, some of whom strongly urged him to give up his Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee gavel in favor of Kennedy's old post. As late as Tuesday morning, Dodd's staff didn't know which way he'd go, and senators he talked to during the day Tuesday said Dodd was legitimately torn. ... Based on what he was hearing, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) - who will get the HELP job now that Dodd has turned it down - was confident that Dodd would move to HELP, leaving him at the Agriculture Committee" (Bresnahan and Raju, 9/10).
In a separate article, Politico reports that "Harkin, a coal miner's son and strong union man, is the chief beneficiary" of Dodd's decision not to take the chairmanship of the Senate Health Committee. "And together with his position already on the Senate Appropriations Committee, the 69-year-old Harkin will have more clout over health and public welfare programs than any senator since the late '60s. As part of the bargain, Dodd will retain a leadership role in the health care debate this fall, but Harkin will be positioned to both authorize and fund one of his top priorities: increased health investments in prevention and wellness initiatives" (Rogers, 9/10).
The Associated Press noted that the change in leadership "will continue to empower the party's more left-leaning members on crucial issues, with Sen. Tom Harkin set to take over health care" (9/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.