Dodd to remain chairman of banking committee

Lieberman ‘considering his options’

Sen. Chris Dodd by David Berkovitz via flickr

Sen. Chris Dodd by David Berkovitz via flickr

Nov. 6 2008

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said Thursday he will stay at the helm of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in order to serve his constituents and tackle “the defining issue of our day”-the economy.

“Our economy is the center of gravity to which all our problems are being pulled,” Dodd said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “As the United States senator from Connecticut, there is no more important way right now that I can serve the people of Connecticut and our country than as Banking Committee chairman.”

Dodd said Connecticut’s role as the “home of the insurance industry” and its proximity to Wall Street make it particularly vulnerable to financial turmoil. He also cited Connecticut’s soaring unemployment and foreclosure rates.

With Vice President-elect Joe Biden leaving the Senate, Dodd could have replaced Biden as chairman of the prestigious Foreign Relations Committee. Dodd said he will continue to sit on that committee, but not as chairman.

Meanwhile, the future role of Connecticut’s other senator, Joe Lieberman, remains in limbo. Lieberman, who was reelected in the 2006 general election as an independent after losing in the Democratic primary, caucuses with the Democrats. But he angered Democrats by aggressively campaigning for Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Many expect the Democratic leadership to strip Lieberman of his Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairmanship, which could drive him over to the Republican Party.

But after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Thursday morning, Lieberman said he is still “considering the options I have before me.”

Dodd said he would work closely with President-elect Barack Obama in putting together his economic team. He said he believed President Bush should consider nominating Obama’s choice for Treasury secretary before the end of Bush’s term on Jan. 20.

“Given the magnitude of these problems, we cannot wait until inauguration day in my view,” he said.

Dodd also was cautious in celebrating the gains made by Senate Democrats in Tuesday’s election. He said both parties need to work together to fix what he called “a terrible mess.”

“If you neglect to deal with the other party,” he said, “you will not achieve much.”

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