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The New Committee Lineup

By Matthew Yglesias  

"The New Committee Lineup"

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Chris Dodd bucked expectations and decided to stay in charge of the Senate Banking Committee. Then Tom Harkin further bucked expectations and decided to depart from his perch at the Agriculture Committee (thought to be exactly where an Iowa Senator wants to be) and take over the HELP Committee. That leaves Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas as the chair of Agriculture, which should be good for her re-election bid.

But is it good for America? Brad Johnson notes that Lincoln is a very strident opponent of climate change legislation, calling even the post-Collin Peterson version of the legislation a “total non-starter.” And the left will have basically no leverage over her; she’s at real risk of losing her seat to a Republican, and Barack Obama is very unpopular in Arkansas. That said, the alternative to this scenario was Tim Johnson heading up Banking, so this is arguably a superior outcome. In terms of core agriculture policy issues, switching from Harkin at the top to Lincoln at the top will probably mostly make things bad in a different way. Policy less oriented toward the interests of people who grow corn, and more oriented toward the interests of Tyson Foods—purveyors of fine fast food chicken products.

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