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Dodd Keeping Banking Gavel

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Thursday said he would continue leading the committee in the next Congress as the country works through an economic meltdown.

Beginning his remarks at an afternoon conference, Dodd told reporters that he was declining what Vice President-elect Biden described as a “gift:” chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee. Biden will leave that job vacant when he assumes his new job in January.

Dodd is next in seniority behind Biden, but he said Thursday that he prefers his current committee, which oversees the central issue that Americans are facing.

“Our economic crisis is the center of gravity to which all our other problems are being pulled and it will be ground zero, when it comes to digging us out of the hole we are in,” Dodd said.

Dodd, who spent much of 2007 on an unsuccessful quest to capture the Democratic presidential nod, also dismissed the suggestion that he could take over for Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Kennedy’s health has been in question after he underwent surgery for a brain tumor earlier this year.

Kennedy may return to the Senate for the upcoming lame-duck session and is expected to return to the chamber full time in January when the 111th Congress begins.

Dodd said he is looking forward to working with Kennedy and the new Obama administration to improve health care for those uninsured.

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