The 65-year-old Democrat from El Segundo has accepted an appointment as president of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. The center is an organization designed to bring leading experts on various issues to Washington to interact with policymakers.
Harman has filed paperwork to leave Congress. She says she'll begin her new job on Feb. 28.
A special election will be held to replace Harman, possibly in June. L.A. city councilwoman Janice Hahn says she'll run.
Harman represents a Democratic-safe district that includes several beachfront communities in suburban Los Angeles such as Venice Beach and Redondo Beach.
Harman will have two jobs for a while. As of Tuesday she is the incoming president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. At the end of the month she will resign the Democratic California Congressional seat she's held for nearly 20 years. She called the new job a challenge she couldn't resist.
At Los Angeles City Hall, Janice Hahn, the only declared candidate for Harman's job, took her city council seat the day after announcing she wants to be in Congress.
Hahn is a 10-year council veteran. She received the endorsement Tuesday of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for Harman's congressional seat.
Harman was known for her expertise in homeland security and terrorism issues.
Hahn says she's spent a lot of time dealing with terrorism and security problems because of the airport and Port of Los Angeles.
"I think you are going to see me really focusing on job creation. I think this time in Congress, everyone, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, needs to be focusing on putting America back to work. I need to find a way to create new jobs in this congressional district," said Hahn.
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen is seriously looking at a run for Harman's congressional seat but probably won't announce for a few weeks. If she does she's expected to be serious contender.
It has been speculated that State Controller John Chiang might be interested. He put that to rest Tuesday.
"We have been in crisis the last couple of years," said Chiang. "This office has taken action to prevent the insolvency. We have a sustained path that we need to continue, and I think it would be irresponsible to leave this position."
It's a rare thing to have a congressional seat open up and more difficult to find a seat that is likely to remain Democratic. There will probably be more declared candidates before this is over.