The Senate After Kennedy

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Although Congress is in recess, many members of the Senate will, of course, be attending Ted Kennedy's funeral in Boston. When they reconvene in Washington after Labor Day, Kennedy's passing will have a number of important practical ramifications in addition to the symbolic ones so much in discussion today. These will impact many of the big policy decisions coming this fall. While nothing is formal yet, Senate insiders expect something like the following scenario to occur. Chris Dodd, currently the chairman of the Banking Committee, would succeed Kennedy as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, an instrumental position in the health care fight and a move that would formalize what has for some time been an informal arrangement. Dodd and Max Baucus, who would remain Finance Committee chairman, would become the key Senate figures on health care. Tim Johnson is next in line to replace Dodd atop the Banking Committee, an important spot for obvious economic reasons and also because the Senate is expected to take up financial services regulation early next year. But Johnson has suffered health problems of his own, so the chairmanship may go to Jack Reed, a low-profile figure who is well thought of by colleagues and fluent in matters of finance (a rare trait among Democrats). Even if Johnson assumes the chairmanship, Reed is expected to play a much larger role.

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Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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