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Posted at 2:10 PM ET, 12/ 9/2010

House Democrats confirm Levin, reject Neal for House Ways and Means top spot

By Felicia Sonmez

Updated: 1:40 p.m.

House Democrats on Thursday tapped Michigan Democratic Rep. Sander Levin for the coveted ranking member spot on the House Ways and Means Committee, rejecting Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, who was nominated for the post by House Democrats' Steering and Policy Committee.

Neal, 61, had edged out Levin Wednesday night in a 23-to-22 vote, leaping ahead of five Democrats who are more senior on the powerful committee, each of whom is more than 70 years old.

But when the vote came up before the full House, Democrats lined up behind Levin, 79, who has been serving as acting chairman of the committee since embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) relinquished the gavel in March.

Levin said in a letter to colleagues Wednesday night that he had come up short in the committee vote because one of his supporters missed the vote.

"I have been an effective chair this year, and I believe I am the best person to meet the challenges our caucus faces in the 112th Congress," Levin wrote. "I have demonstrated principled, active leadership and the ability to press the administration to hold firm to our basic principles and take on Republicans who want to turn back the clock on our accomplishments."

Neal and Levin engaged in a protracted battle for the spot. Both have made big contributions to House Democrats' campaign arm this cycle in an effort to win support from their colleagues; Levin gave $395,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, while Neal gave $420,000.

House Republicans have tapped Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to chair the committee.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Thursday afternoon announcing the election of Levin as well as several other ranking members including Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) for the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) for the Appropriations Committee, Barney Frank (D-Mass.) for the Financial Services Committee and Robert Brady (D-Pa.) for the Committee on House Administration.

"The vast experience and wealth of knowledge of these distinguished Members prepares them to continue addressing the challenges facing our country as Ranking Members in the 112th Congress," Pelosi said. "I look forward to working with all of our Ranking Members and the new Republican committee chairmen to create jobs and reduce the deficit in a bipartisan way." 

By Felicia Sonmez  | December 9, 2010; 2:10 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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