Dodd makes it official, decides to keep Senate Banking Committee gavel

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) made it official on Wednesday that he would remain as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee as lawmakers look to dramatically overhaul the nation's financial regulations.

Dodd chose to keep the Senate Banking Committee gavel instead of moving to become chairman of the Health committee after the death of longtime friend and Chairman Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

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Dodd, who is facing a tough reelection campaign, wouldn't put a deadline on passing financial legislation, but said he hoped to move a comprehensive bill this year.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) will replace Kennedy as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) will replace Harkin as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, becoming the first woman to hold the panel's gavel.

Dodd said it was a “tough call,” but added that “a lot is left to be done” on financial reform.

Dodd, who had been shepherding the HELP Committee's work while Kennedy was undergoing treatment, will continue to work on the issue for the committee, Harkin said.

The Obama administration has laid out in hundreds of pages of draft legislation its plans for new financial regulations. The administration has proposed a new agency to oversee consumer financial products, a consolidation of two of the country's banking regulations, new restrictions on financial derivatives and new powers for the Federal Reserve to oversee systemic risk.

“We want to try to deal with this as comprehensively as we can,” Dodd said.