I spent time with Senator Harkin last week. I have known Tom Harkin since 1984. I have been dealing with him for the last thirty years and I think he is at his best ever right now. He is much more skilled, more comfortable with his progressive agenda than I have ever seen him. His dual perch as Chair atop Senate Labor HHS Appropriations Committee and Senate Health Appropriations Committee gives him a lot of muscle, power, influence. And he is maximizing it. I continue to be impressed with Tom Harkin, week after week.
I think in the past Harkin may have been overshadowed by the late Senator Kennedy and the recently retired Chris Dodd. No one is going to outshine Ted Kennedy. Looking at what Tom Harkin stands for, it is clear to me that he is carrying the progressive banner well. Day in and day out. I hear from other Senators about fights he is picking, issues on health care, job training, food stamps, food safety, mine safety, child labor, for-profit colleges. Harkin is involved in the full scope of progressive issues. Looking at his agenda, and considering the era in which we live, with the expectations and respect for Congress so diminished, it is clear that Harkin is a giant. I mean that. He is as effective as any Senator I have ever dealt with.