September 9th, 2009
02:59 PM ET
9 years ago

Musical chairs in the Senate

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Tom Harkin will replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy as chairman of the important Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the news Wednesday afternoon while speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill. Harkin is a Democrat from Iowa.

There was speculation that Sen. Chris Dodd would replace Kennedy as chairman of the committee. Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, had been steering the panel this year, as Kennedy battled brain cancer. Kennedy died two weeks ago.

The HELP committee is one of two Senate panels that worked on health care reform legislation.

The HELP committee, with Dodd filling in for Kennedy, passed a health care bill earlier this summer. The Senate Finance Committee continues to work towards a possible bipartisan bill.

Dodd announced today that he will remain as chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, rather than take over the HELP Committee.

Harkin's elevation as chairman of HELP means he'll step down as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Reid announced that Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat from Arkansas, will become the new chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee. Lincoln becomes the first woman and first senator from Arkansas to chair the Agriculture Committee.

Both Lincoln and Dodd face what could be tough tests for re-election next year.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser and Producer Virginia Nicolaidis contributed to this report

Filed under: Senate • Ted Kennedy • Tom Harkin
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. as long as you are effective

    how you change chairs, what games you play, which song is playing when you play musical chairs is not my concern

    get the job done

    September 9, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. cat

    I hope Tom Harkins can be trusted not to fail the American people.

    September 9, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. Dennis

    At least Harkin is a guy with midwest common sense. Dodd should be done as a senator.

    September 9, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. Bye bye Dodd

    Reid chose Harkin becasue he knows dodd will not win reelection in the mid terms

    September 9, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    Musical chairs in the Senate... and amateur hour at the White House. So tell us all... who's leading the Romper Room activities?

    September 9, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. Palin the Alien

    Excellent! It's about time that seat got filled. And please, Sarah, just shut up! The only things for which you'll be remembered in history are your little glasses, big 'barracuda' teeth, and your outrageous stupidity!

    September 9, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Chip

    Musical chairs? More like a cacophony.

    September 9, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. cgillette369

    how many bribes will Harkin get per day.

    oh yeah, this is the senator who lied about being a pilot in VIETNAM
    he was NOT. he lised just like chris dodd lied about his mortgage deals with COUNTRYWIDE.

    September 9, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. Sam's Nemesis

    yikes....some names just keep getting regurgitated............glad there is a lot of change going on ........same old same old

    September 9, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. S Callahan

    Looking to the future...there will be alot chairs taken away and a new game started the way things are going now.

    September 9, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Vets4Obama

    I want to hear the bands play while the Republicans are permantly banished from their chairs. These dead weights have done NOTHING productive their entire time filling their seats.

    The only good politicians are Democrats. While the republicans are donning their tin foil hats and writing their doomsday conspiracy theories, Democrats (along with many independants) are hard at work making a bright future for our country.

    September 9, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. What's next on the socialist agenda?

    Dodd is gone soon anyway, he is scalp number two of MANY gutless frauds that masquerade as politicians of the "people" who will be GONE come 2010 and through 2012.

    Keep doubting liberals, it is coming, your DONE.

    September 9, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. gt

    another old warn out senator with no new ideas ,,, we need new blood ,,,from both parties,,, the senate looks like a retirement home .....

    September 9, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  14. J.P.

    Don't get comfortable, kids.
    We're sending you all home next year, Republicans included.

    September 9, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  15. stormerF

    Another good reason for Term Limits. Where is the outcry for the Resignation of Cahrles Rangel? He has proven more than once he is corrupt and inept at his job. Why are we held to higher standards than a congressmen when it comes to paying our Taxes?

    September 9, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  16. Elaine

    For everyone who says Sara Palin can't talk and is stupid. Maybe she could talk better if she had a tela pronter like Obama, he can not say anything but , duh, uh, without his pronter, I think it tells him when to go to the bathroom

    September 9, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. Enough

    Gotta love those Democrats, change the rules when they thought Kerry was going to be President so the Republican Romney couldn't appoint someone to replace Kerry. Now that Kennedy is gone they want to change the rules again so the Democrat can appoint someone. Love how they always change the rules to fit their needs.

    September 9, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  18. I guess Obama is Cool

    Congratulations Senator Lincoln!!!

    September 9, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. Denis

    And this is completely new information for all the world to know!!Musical chairs really!!! So that is what they do all day, besides meeting with their Lobbyist Pals, working on their re-election fund drives. Do you think that they can spend some time on the Healthcare Bill and get some concrete work done.

    America needs Universal Healthcare that will cover every citizen with pre-existing conditions etc. We need a system where the Insurtance system (private or public or both) take care of the patients first.

    Private Health Insurance companies have no business dicating to patients what they can and will only cover. Patients and Doctors should be the only ones that decide the level of coverage and medical care. If private Insurance companies don't like it then the Public system should be the only coverage.

    September 9, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  20. Hillbilly

    Hope the 2010 elections play the tune of CYA for the sorry far left libs.

    September 9, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. Sick of Blanche

    Even ascending to the chair of the Ag committee isn't going to help Blanche. She's in the race of her life and is handicapped because she cannot decide if she wants to lead or follow. She just needs to get out of the way!

    September 9, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. Carl

    What's the difference? Replacing one Democrate with another one.
    Answer: NOTHING

    September 9, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Rex LaLonde

    What is wrong with current Health Plans? Does no one seem to
    understand that taking greed away and stop the giving away
    (to all who don't pay into any plan, such as illeagal immagrants),
    etc. etc. that there would be no problem. It would only be a matter
    of time before the greed and give away would ruin any proposed
    plan. THINK ABOUT IT!!

    September 9, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. Obama Victim

    WHEN is Charlie Rangel going to LOSE his chair???

    Oh wait... if a democrat lies, cheats, evades paying taxes... it's OK. It's ONLY a problem if a GOP member does such things.

    (eyes rolling)

    September 9, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Chip

    I think all politicians should be limited to two terms. One in office, the other in jail.

    September 9, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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