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Insurance issue vet Sen. Dodd won't seek re-election

Posted On: Jan. 6, 2010 12:00 AM CST

EAST HADDAM, Conn.—The chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee—Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. —said Wednesday that he will not seek re-election.

Sen. Dodd's career long has been associated with insurance issues. He was one of the initial backers of the federal government's terrorism insurance backstop and repeatedly backed the program's extension. As chairman of the Banking Committee, he has been involved in numerous other insurance issues, and backs the streamlining of surplus lines regulation and establishing a federal insurance office within the U.S. Treasury Department.

Both initiatives are part of a comprehensive financial services regulatory reform act he drafted. The committee is expected to begin consideration of the measure later this month.

Sen. Dodd’s influence also has been felt in the health care reform arena. As Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, struggled with terminal cancer last year, Sen. Dodd took the helm on an interim basis and helped guide the panel’s consideration and passage of comprehensive health care reform legislation.

In fact, Sen. Dodd was next in line to succeed Sen. Kennedy, but turned down HELP chairmanship so he could continue to lead the Banking Committee.

But Sen. Dodd came under fire recently for a variety of reasons, including how his committee oversaw financial institutions as well as his temporary move to Iowa during his short-lived 2008 presidential campaign.

During his Wednesday announcement at his home in East Haddam, Conn., Sen. Dodd also said he suffered the losses of his sister and of Sen. Kennedy, his best friend in the Senate, in recent months.

“Now let me be clear, I am very aware of my present political standing here at home, but it is equally clear that any certain prediction about an election victory or defeat nearly a year from now would be absurd,” he said. “Strange as it may sound, I’m not confident I would be standing here today making this announcement if these situations had not occurred. None of these events or circumstances either individually or collectively is the cause of my decision not to seek re-election.”