Multiple news sources are reporting a major development--and something of a surprise--this evening for Washington insiders.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd has decided to stay put as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, rather than assuming the chairmanship of the Senate Health committee left vacant by the death last month of his close friend, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. He's scheduled an announcement for Wednesday morning.

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Dodd's decision clears the way for Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin to take over as chairman of the Health committee, which is formally known as Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

Harkin ranks next in Democratic seniority on the committee behind Dodd. Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski is third in line after Harkin. A senator can chair only one major committee, and Dodd and Harkin would have to give up their current chairmanships to chair HELP.

Earlier, Senate sources had said that Harkin would remain as chairman of the Agriculture Committee, opening the way for Mikulski to assume Kennedy's place. But the populist liberal from Iowa, who has a longtime interest in social policy, will grab the HELP chairmanship after all.That leaves Mikulski as the most senior Democrat in the Senate without a full committee chairmanship. A Mikulski spokeswoman said tonight that she could not comment on the reports.

Mikulski, who broke her ankle in July, returned to the Senate today after spending weeks at a Baltimore rehabilitation hospital. She is scheduled to appear on Wednesday at an event at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration headquarters.

A move by Harkin to the chairmanship of HELP is likely to spark other committee changes, including at the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, where the Iowan currently heads the subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies.

That might open the chairmanship of that panel to Mikulski, who currently heads the Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies. She is next in line in seniority on Appropriations after Harkin.

The Labor HHS subcommittee would likely be far more appealing to Mikulski, both in terms of her personal interests (including her background as a social worker) and those of her home state of Maryland.

Not a bad consolation prize.

The agencies in the jurisdiction of the Appropriations subcommittee currently headed by Harkin include the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Here's the full list, according to the panel's Web site:

* Administration on Aging (HHS)

* Administration for Children and Families (HHS)

* Administration on Native Americans (HHS)

* Adolescent Pregnancy (HHS)

* Adult Education (Education)

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* Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HHS)

* Aging Programs (HHS)

* American Printing House for the Blind (Education)

* AmeriCorps

* Assistance Payments/TANF (HHS)

* Bilingual and Immigrant Education (Education)

* Black Lung Benefits (Labor)

* Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (Labor)

* Bureau of International Labor Affairs (Labor)

* Bureau of Labor Statistics (Labor)

* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS)

* Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (HHS)

* Child Care Assistance (HHS)

* Child Support Enforcement (HHS)

* Child Welfare Services (HHS)

* Children and Family Services Programs (HHS)

* College Housing and Academic Facilities Loans (Education)

* Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled

* Community Health Centers (HHS)

* Community Service Employment for Older Americans (Labor)

* Community Services Block Grant (HHS)

* Consumer Price Index (Labor)

* Corporation for National and Community Service:

o AmeriCorps

o Domestic Volunteer Service Programs

* Corporation for Public Broadcasting

* Developmental Disabilities (HHS)

* Dislocated Worker Assistance (Labor)

* Education, Department of

* Education for the Disadvantaged?Title I (Education)

* Employee Benefits Security Administration (Labor)

* Employment and Training Administration (Labor)

* Employment Service Operations (Labor)

* Employment Standards Administration (Labor)

* English Language Acquisition (Education)

* Family Planning (HHS)

* Federal Family Education Loan Program (Education)

* Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

* Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission

* Federal Old Age and Survivors Insurance (SSA)

* Federal Unemployment Benefits and Allowances (Labor)

* Foster Care/Adoption Assistance (HHS)

* Gallaudet University (Education)

* Grants to States for Social and Child Welfare Services - Title XX (HHS)

* Head Start Program (HHS)

* Health and Human Services, Department of (HHS)

o Except:

Food and Drug Administration

Indian Health and Construction Activities

Office of Consumer Affairs

* Health Professions Education (HHS)

* Health Resources and Services Administration (HHS)

* Health Services Research (HHS)

* Higher Education (Education)

* Howard University (Education)

* Immunization Program (HHS)

* Impact Aid (Education)

* Indian Education (Education)

* Institute of Education Sciences (Education)

* Institute of Museum and Library Services:

o Office of Library Services

o Office of Museum Services

* International Education (Education)

* Job Corps (Labor)

* John E. Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences (NIH)

* Labor, Department of

* Labor-Management Standards (Labor)

* Libraries

* Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (HHS)

* Maternal and Child Health (HHS)

* Medicaid/Medicare Contractors (HHS)

* Medicare Payment Advisory Commission

* Migrant Education (Education)

* Migrant Health (HHS)

* Mine Health and Safety Academy (Labor)

* Mine Safety and Health Administration (Labor)

* National Cancer Institute (NIH)

* National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIH)

* National Center for Health Statistics (HHS)

* National Center for Research Resources (NIH)

* National Commission on Libraries and Information Science

* National Council on Disability

* National Eye Institute (NIH)

* National Health Service Corps (HHS)

* National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH)

* National Human Genome Research Institute (NIH)

* National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH)

* National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH)

* National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIH)

* National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH)

* National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIH)

* National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH)

* National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH) (See also Inter-ior, Environment, and Related Agencies)

* National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIH)

* National Institute of Mental Health (NIH)

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* National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH)

* National Institute of Nursing Research (NIH)

* National Institute on Aging (NIH)

* National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIH)

* National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH)

* National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH)

* National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health (HHS)

* National Institutes of Health (HHS)

* National Labor Relations Board

* National Library of Medicine (NIH)

* National Mediation Board

* National Technical Institute for the Deaf (Education)

* National Youth Sports Program (HHS)

* Native American Programs (HHS)

* Nursing Workforce Development (HHS)

* Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Labor)

* Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

* Office for Civil Rights (HHS) (Education)

* Office of Disability Policy (Labor)

* Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (Education)

* Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (Labor)

* Office of Library Services (Institute of Museum and Library Services)

* Office of Museum Services (Institute of Museum and Library Services)

* Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS)

* Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (Education)

* Office of Work-Based Learning (Labor)

* Pell Grants (Education)

* Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (Labor)

* President's Council on Physical Fitness (HHS)

* Public Health Service (HHS)

* Railroad Retirement Board

* Reading First Program

* Refugee Assistance (Domestic) (HHS)

* Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research (Education)

* Runaway and Homeless Youth (HHS)

* Safe and Drug-Free Schools

* School Improvement Programs (Education)

* Sexually Transmitted Disease Program (HHS)

* Social Security Administration

* Social Services Block Grant (HHS)

* Special Benefits for Disabled Coal Miners (Labor)

* Special Education (Education)

* Special Institutions for Persons With Disabilities (Education)

* Student Financial Assistance (Education)

* Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS)

* Supplemental Security Income (SSA)

* Trade Adjustment Assistance/Workers (Labor)

* Unemployment Trust Fund (Labor)

* Veterans Employment and Training (Labor)

* Vocational and Adult Education (Education)

* Wage and Hour Division (Labor)

* Woman's Bureau (Labor)

Update

Harkin will get to keep the Labor, HHS subcommittee chairmanship, a committee spokesman said Wednesday morning. So the net for Mikulski is no change.

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