Jane Harman: ‘This Is An Excruciating Decision’

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February 7, 2011 10:32 a.m.

In a letter sent to her constituents earlier today, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) confirmed reports that she’ll likely be stepping from the seat she’s held since 2000 to take over as president of a Washington think tank.

“Earlier today, I filed paperwork notifying the House of Representatives that I am in discussions to succeed former Rep. Lee Hamilton [D-IN] as President and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars,” Harman wrote. “I send this note because a decision is imminent and I wanted you to hear the news from me first.”

Harman says the talks with the Wilson center are “ongoing” and she expects to remain in Congress “for some weeks and do everything possible to ensure an orderly transition.”Full text of the letter Harman sent to people in her Southern California district today:

Earlier today, I filed paperwork notifying the House of Representatives that I am in discussions to succeed former Rep. Lee Hamilton as President and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. I send this note because a decision is imminent and I wanted you to hear the news from me first.

This is an excruciating decision because the distinction of representing the smartest constituents on earth will never be surpassed – nor will my relationships with my exceptional staff and colleagues in Congress. But shaping and leading the Wilson Center is a thrilling new challenge.

I have always believed that the best solutions to tough problems require a bipartisan approach, and bipartisanship is the Center’s “brand.” Serving at its helm provides unique opportunities to involve the House and Senate, top experts, and world leaders in “great debates” about the most pressing foreign and domestic policy matters.

Should this opportunity come to pass, I would be required to resign my seat. But please know that I would remain in Congress for some weeks and do everything possible to ensure an orderly transition to whomever is elected to succeed me. Sidney and I will always retain our residence in Venice, be home frequently, and stay engaged at USC and active in the community.

You have elected me to nine terms in Congress – an honor without equal. I hope you understand how truly grateful I am for your friendship and support.

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