Thursday, November 20, 2008

Waxman takes over key House chairmanship from Dingell

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From The Hill:

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) will become the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee after House Democrats voted to replace current Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.).

Waxman won 137-122 in the secret ballot vote.

Why is this important? First, because Waxman is significantly more progressive than Dingell. Second, and more specifically, because Dingell, long a major defender of the Detroit-based auto industry, has been an obstacle to aggressive efforts to address global warming. (And the bailiwick of this key committee includes global warming.) TPM's Greg Sargent and Eric Kleefeld have more:

This is big, big, big. In a victory for the Democratic left...

The defeat of Dingell is a major victory for environmentalists, removing a key obstacle to real energy reform just as a Democrat with climate change high on his agenda takes the Presidency.

Dingell, who first entered the House way back when Eisenhower was president, had been the head Democrat on this committee ever since 1981. But many of the more liberal members over the years came to view him as too friendly to Michigan's auto industry and hostile to environmentalists -- especially on issues like climate change and carbon limits.

It also shakes up Congress' seniority system and is yet another sign that the political momentum is squarely in the camp of aggressive Dems. Waxman played a lead role in staking out a far more aggressive stance towards the Bush administration than many other more cautious Dems would take.

Waxman used his House Oversight chairmanship to grill the administration over its scandals and incompetence, making him a hero to many Democrats and a viable candidate for change over Dingell.

Now his victory stands as a harbinger of just how much change is coming.

It's certainly a big, big victory for liberals and progressives, as well as for Nancy Pelosi (who was thought to be behind Waxman's bid).

But it's also a big, big victory for Obama, for Gore, and for all of us who consider global warming to be one of the most pressing issues of our time -- if not the most -- and who think that aggressive efforts in terms of developing viable long-term alternative-energy solutions and building a sustainable green economy are required if global warming is to be addressed in any meaningful way.

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  • So here's my question: this committee has voted out an auto-industry defender, because of environmental concerns, right at a time when the auto industry is facing scrutiny for its woeful inadequacies and financial failings.

    Is this strictly a pro-environment move, or will it have ramifications for the proposed bailout of the Detroit automakers? Many of the liberal Democrat illuminati have been pushing for the bailout; but will those agendas collide?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:38 PM  

  • Waxman certainly faced a tougher vote for this chairmanship than he did to retain his seat...he was unopposed!

    Yes, I think this is a victory for the left. As a long time rep from the peoples republic of Santa Monica (my district!) he has represented us pinkos well. Go henry!

    By Blogger Bloghead, at 1:39 AM  

  • He's a really nice guy, what are you all on about?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:20 AM  

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