Harkin to Chair HELP

Posted September 9, 2009 at 1:39pm

Updated: 2:50 p.m.Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) announced Wednesday that he will give up the chairmanship of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee to take the gavel of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, succeeding the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).Harkin’s decision comes on the heels of Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) announcement that he would stay put as the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs chairman. Dodd was next in line on HELP and has been pinch hitting on health care reform for much of the year while Kennedy was battling brain cancer. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) will take Harkin’s place atop the Agriculture panel. In a statement after making the announcement, Harkin said: “Today I am honored to accept the chairmanship of the Senate HELP Committee. To serve in this capacity is to carry on the legacy of Senator Ted Kennedy, who dedicated his life to ensuring that our economy works for all Americans, guaranteeing every child the opportunity to pursue a quality education and, of course, the cause of his life: access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. “In this last endeavor, I expect to work closely with Senator Dodd, who has guided the HELP Committee so capably in reporting The Affordable Health Choice Act, and who will continue to play a leading role as health care legislation moves to the Senate floor.—