Panel Recommends Waxman Over Dingell for Key Gavel
By Paul Kane
In a tight vote, the House Democratic steering committee has recommended placing Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) into the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee, ejecting current chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.).
On a 25-22 vote, Waxman defeated Dingell, according to a lawmaker in the room who requested anonymity to discuss the closed-door deliberations. The full House Democratic caucus now votes on the chairmanship battle tomorrow.
The Energy panel is regarded as the one of the most powerful in the House, with vast sway over health care, energy issues and telecommunications policy, among other industries.
Much of President-elect Barack Obama's agenda will have to go through that panel, turning the Waxman-Dingell race into an ideological and regional battle.
Dingell, of Dearborn, is a close ally of the auto industry. His wife, Debbie, is an executive with General Motors, which has been pleading for billions of dollars worth of federal aid as it faces a cash crunch threatening it with bankruptcy.
He has often opposed many of the reforms more liberal Democrats have sought to impose on the auto makers.
Waxman, of Los Angeles, hails from the liberal wing of the party and has long supported imposing fuel efficiency standards and other reforms on Detroit's Big Three.
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