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Harman to leave Congress, join think tank

Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 2010.

From NBC's Andrea Mitchell
NBC News has learned that Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., is expected to announce tomorrow that she will quit Congress to become the president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

Harman will succeed the current leader, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who has led the bipartisan think tank for 12 years.

Her California district is reliably Democratic. A special election will have to be called to replace her.

Harman, who has served as a senior foreign policy and intelligence voice in the Democratic caucus, was first elected to the House in 2000.

*** UPDATE *** NBC's Shawna Thomas reports that Harman's departure comes as a surprise to rank-and-file Democrats, as well as to their leader in the House. A source confirms that Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi didn't know about Harman's intention until she was informed today.