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Kennedy's Passing and the Implications for Reed

Washington, of course, is already contemplating the implications of Senator Ted Kennedy's death for his colleagues in the US Senate. The chatter includes a Politico piece which suggests that Kennedy's passing could vault Senator Jack Reed into the chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee just as Congress considers key curbs on Wall Street excess:

Ted Kennedy's death leaves a vacancy atop the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that could have a domino effect on a number of other key committees. 

Kennedy's close friend, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, had run the HELP Committee when Kennedy was absent from the Senate fighting cancer. Now, many Senate insiders believe Dodd will become chairman of the HELP Committee at a critical moment in the health care debate and at a critical moment for Dodd’s own reelection hopes.

But to take on HELP, Dodd would have to give up his chairmanship of the Banking Committee just before Congress makes a major push to rewrite regulations on Wall Street.

The next in line in seniority for Banking is moderate Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), but Johnson himself has taken a low profile since the end of 2006, when he collapsed from bleeding in the brain. It’s possible that the more liberal Jack Reed (D-R.I.) could leapfrog Johnson to become chairman.

Although Senate insiders say Reid has signaled that Johnson will stay on, industry officials don't know who the next chairman will be.

"There is a big question on who will take Banking," one financial services lobbyist told POLITICO. "It's a mentally and physically demanding position for anybody, regardless of their health."
 

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