Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Harkin HELP Chairmanship Bodes Well for Prevention

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who is the Senate's most passionate proponent of disease prevention and health promotion, apparently will succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, (D-Mass.) as chairman of the Senate Health, Education Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The Washington Post reports that Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has decided against succeeding Kennedy, and Harkin is the next in line for the post.

If he takes over the helm at HELP, it will make him an even more powerful voice for prevention in the Senate. While Harkin will have to give up his chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee to head HELP, he will be able to retain his chairmanship of the Senate Health Appropriations Subcommittee. This will make him the key legislator in both the congressional authorization and appropriations processes.

He will also be taking over the post just as this year's debate over health reform enters its most critical phase.


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