The dominos are continuing to fall. Senator Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., announced he would remain chairman of the Banking Committee and not take over the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions chair left vacant by the death of Edward Kennedy. According to Senate aides, Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa will assume that position thereby opening the chair of the Agriculture Committee, which will be taken over by Senator Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.
There has been speculation that this was likely to occur since Kennedy's death. However, it required a series of events starting with Dodd's decision to stay the chair of Banking, then Harkin's decision to give up the Agriculture chair, and the three senators with seniority on Agriculture choosing to keep their current chair assignments.
Lincoln would be the first woman to head the Agriculture Committee. During the drafting of the 2008 Farm Bill she was a strong defender of farm subsidies.
"As chairman, I will work with my colleagues to build upon the committee’s strong record and devote my full energy to producing forward-looking, balanced priorities on behalf of all families and communities," Lincoln said in a news release. "I will continue to fight for the hardworking farm families and rural communities who provide the safest, most abundant and affordable supply of food and fiber in the world."
Several groups have made statements of support for the change that is happening in regards to leadership in the Senate. The National Corn Growers Association says they wish Harkin well in his new role and are pleased with Lincoln's assuming the Agriculture chair.
"Senator Lincoln has continued to be an advocate for the ag industry and we congratulate her on the newly appointed position as chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee," NCGA President Bob Dickey said. "We're grateful for the senator's previous work for corn farmers and we look forward to working with her in the future on issues important to our members."
The American Farm Bureau Federation also issued support of Lincoln as did House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
"Senator Lincoln's passion and support for American agriculture make her an excellent choice to chair the Senate Agriculture Committee," Peterson said. "She grew up on a farm and knows first-hand how much hard work and dedication it requires. I look forward to working with her on the issues that matter to agriculture and rural America. I also want to commend Senator Harkin for his leadership and wish him well as he takes over the Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee."
A resolution will likely be made Thursday to make the appointment official.