Dodd stretched thin on finance and health roles

Critics are saying that Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., cannot handle his role in financial regulatory reform while he sits in for ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy on the House's health committee, Politico reports.

Dodd, in addition to sitting as the acting chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is full-time chair of the Senate Banking Committee, and he insists he can get both health and financial market reform done this year.

"Dodd's staff talks just about every day with administration aides on the issue, and his office points to the fact that the committee has already held 15 hearings this year related to the regulatory reform issue, 12 of them before the full committee. But Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a member of the committee, said there's no way that financial regulatory reform will move quickly if his colleagues - and his chairman - are focused on health care."

As Dodd runs for re-election: "The optics of fighting for the top kitchen-table concern for many Americans provides the perfect antidote to the image of Dodd as too cozy with Wall Street fat cats - fueled by the controversy of his getting what some view as a sweetheart mortgage deal from now-defunct Countrywide Financial - and as out of touch with folks back home, symbolized for many by his quixotic run for the White House" (McGrane, 6/23).

Indeed, his re-election is increasingly a topic in any conversation about him, CQ Politics reports: "He's facing by far the roughest campaign of his career. Although he's won his Senate seat five times by double-digit margins, and secured his current term in 2004 with two-thirds of the vote, he's trailing in the polls behind his likely Republican challenger next year: Rob Simmons, who served in the House from 2001 through 2006" (Nather, 6/23).

But Dodd is hanging his hat on health care reform, and is abetted by his friend Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., The Hill reports: "Few senators know that (Baucus and Dodd) have had a quiet friendship over the years, but that relationship may prove pivotal for Democrats' hopes of passing a health reform package. Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee charged with figuring out how to pay for the healthcare overhaul, once backed Dodd for leadership at his own peril (by voting for him instead of Sen. Tom Daschle for a leadership position)" (Bolton, 6/22).


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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