Rep. Jane Harman of California to resign

U.S. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), a leading congressional voice on anti-terrorism issues, plans to resign from Congress to head up the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a senior congressional source confirmed Monday, setting up a special election to choose her successor in a coastal district that stretches from Venice into the South Bay.

She is expected to leave her seat soon to succeed former Rep. Lee Hamilton as head of the Washington-based think tank, though no date was immediately announced. Her departure comes after her Democratic party lost control of the House, and it creates a rare open congressional seat in the Los Angeles area.

Harman’s departure was first reported by NBC News.

Harman was sending an e-mail to constituents Monday notifying them of her decision.


“I have always believed that the best solutions to tough problems require a bipartisan approach, and bipartisanship is the center’s ‘brand,’ ” she said in the e-mail. “Serving at its helm provides unique opportunities to involve the House and Senate, top experts, and world leaders in ‘great debates’ about the most pressing foreign and domestic policy matters.

“This is an excruciating decision because the distinction of representing the smartest constituents on earth will never be surpassed – nor will my relationships with my exceptional staff and colleagues in Congress. But shaping and leading the Wilson Center is a thrilling new challenge.’’

Harman said she would remain in Congress for “some weeks and do everything possible to ensure an orderly transition to whomever is elected to succeed me.’’

She said she and husband Sidney Harman “will always retain our residence in Venice, be home frequently, and stay engaged at USC and active in the community. You have elected me to nine terms in Congress – an honor without equal. I hope you understand how truly grateful I am for your friendship and support.”