According to the Washington Post, Senator Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., will announce Wednesday morning that he will not succeed the late Edward Kennedy as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. That means Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is next in line for the chairmanship, which could cause a major shakeup on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Several sources report that Harkin will likely assume leadership of the Health Committee, meaning he would have to give up his chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee. That may open the door for a major regional shift in ag leadership as speculation is that Senator Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., would become chair of the Ag Committee. That, coupled with Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., would give Southern agriculture a significant one-two punch on the committee and lead a different policy perspective.
Three other members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Max Baucus, D-Mont., Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., have more seniority than Lincoln, but each holds important chairmanships in Finance, Budget and Judiciary, respectively, that they are unlikely to give up.