- November 25th 2011
Senate Democrats moved quickly to fill the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chair vacated by the late August death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D, Mass.). Sen. Tom Harkin (D, Iowa) took over the helm.
Although Sen. Chris Dodd (D, Conn.) was the committee Democrat with the most Senate experience -- he was elected in 1980 -- Dodd announced on Sept. 9 that he would instead retain the chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Committee chairs are distributed based on seniority, but senators can't hold more than one chair at a time.
At Kennedy's request, Dodd chaired the HELP Committee's health reform hearings over the summer, concluding with the panel's party-line approval of the Affordable Health Choices Act in July. Dodd said he would continue to lead the committee's health reform effort. The bill is expected to be merged eventually with a measure from the Senate Finance Committee.
After Dodd's demurral, Harkin announced on Sept. 9 th [Read more]