Dodd Chooses Not to Take Kennedy’s HELP Committee Gavel

ZUMA Press/Newscom

In a move that comes as a fairly big surprise, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) will reportedly announce today that he is not taking over the chairmanship of the Help, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which became vacant upon the death of Ted Kennedy. Dodd had been expected to take up Kennedy’s mantle, leaving a vacancy on the Banking Committee, which he currently chairs.

The HELP chairmanship will instead go to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who is next in line after Dodd. Dodd had been the focus of much attention, because if he had taken the HELP chairmanship then Banking would have gone to Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), whose home state is a major base for the credit-card industry.

To round out the game of musical chairs, Harkin will have to vacate the Agriculture Committee chairmanship, which will likely be filled by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)–the only senior member of that committee who doesn’t already have a chairmanship.