Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has decided against succeeding his friend Edward Kennedy as chairman of the Senate panel focused overhauling the nation's health care system, a Senate aide confirmed Tuesday.
Dodd rejects health panel chairmanship, aide says
Dodd's decision means that he will continue to lead the Senate's banking committee and focus his efforts on pushing through a major overhaul of federal banking regulations.
The job of chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was expected to fall to Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, the next most senior Democrat on the panel.
The aide spoke only on condition of anonymity ahead of Dodd's announcement of his decision, expected today.
Whether Dodd would succeed Kennedy, who died last month of brain cancer, was the subject of much speculation on Capitol Hill in part because the move would have left the financial reform effort in the hands of Sen. Tim Johnson.
Johnson, whose home state of South Dakota has a ttracted the credit card industry because of its business-friendly usury laws, is seen as considerably more moderate than Dodd. He also is still recovering from a brain hemorrhage, prompting some lobbyists and aides to question whether he was up to the physical demands of being chairman.
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