Published February 07, 2011
Longtime Rep. Jane Harman of California is quitting Congress to lead the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Fox News has learned.
Two senior House Democratic officials confirmed that Harman has informed Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., of her plans to retire.
The Wilson Center, whose current head is former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., is expected to announce Harman's new gig Tuesday. The Woodrow Wilson Center would not speak to specifics about Harman but Sharon Coleman McCarter, vice president of outreach and communications, said the board is meeting Tuesday and "will make an announcement on our new president."
In a letter to constituents, Harman said that if she gets the post, she will remain in Congress "for some weeks" and will "do everything possible to ensure an orderly transition to whomever is elected to succeed me."
"This is an excruciating decision because the distinction of representing the smartest constituents on Earth will never be surpassed ... But shaping and leading the Wilson Center is a thrilling new challenge. I have always believed that the best solutions to tough problems require a bipartisan approach, and bipartisanship is the center's 'brand,'" she wrote.
Harman, the nine-term congresswoman who represents California's 8th Congressional District, is known for her disputes with Pelosi, who famously prevented Harman from becoming chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats regained the majority in 2007.
She is also married to billionaire Sidney Harman, who last year bought Newsweek magazine for $1.
According to a friend, who spoke to Politico newspaper about Harman's plans, the congresswoman was ready for a new challenge.
"It's not that she wants to leave Congress. It’s more about seeing the Woodrow Wilson Center as the preeminent place for seeking bipartisan solutions. It's a classy, well-funded operation. She just sees is as a great challenge and a great opportunity. She kept getting more and more excited about it," the source told Politico.
Fox News' Trish Turner and April Girouard contributed to this report.