WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just hours after Democrats celebrated an expanded majority in the House of Representatives, a public fight erupted for the leadership of a key committee charged with enacting many of President-elect Barack Obama's agenda items.
House Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Ca, is challenging Michigan Democratic Congressman John Dingell for the chairmanship of the powerful Energy and Commerce committee.
In a written statement released Wednesday Waxman, who is the next senior Democrat on the committee, said: "When the new Congress starts in January, we will face unprecedented opportunities and challenges. The public expects Congress and President-elect Obama to work together to find solutions to the nation's most pressing problems. But the issues we will confront are immensely difficult. We will need the very best leadership in Congress and our committees
Waxman's statement also focused on the most controversial issues the committee will face, making the case he could get these measures passed.
"Enacting comprehensive energy, climate, and health care reform will not be easy. But my record shows that I have the skill and ability to build consensus and deliver legislation that improves the lives of all Americans."
Waxman called Dingell this morning to tell him that he would be running for committee chairman. Dingell did not expect a challenge to the post. Since he got the news, Dingell has been calling Democrats on his committee and asking for their support.
Jodi Seth, Dingell's spokeswoman at the committee, criticized Waxman's move.
"This is unhealthy, and does not benefit the party in any way. Tearing a leadership apart is something the Republicans should be doing after their big loss; it shouldn't be the first order of business for the Democrats after a historic election," Seth said.
Dingell, who is 82, will become the longest serving member in the history of the House of Representatives next February. He's a strong supporter of auto companies based in his district and is considered conservative on energy issues. Waxman, who is friendlier to environmental concerns, is closer to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi's office did not comment on the story.
Committee chairmanships in the House need to be approved by the full House Democratic Caucus, but are considered first by the House Steering and Policy Committee, a group appointed by Pelosi.
I think Waxman is so ugly, he's even uglier than Dingell – if such a thing is possible. Do we have to look at them every other night on the news? Isn't it more than enough that we also have to hear marble-mouthed Barney Frank mumbling inanities through that jowly maw of his? Bllllech.
Come on, what bickering? Two people are running for the leadership of a committee, that's all. It's not the Soviet Union here, we've got a democracy, and we should let it work.
Arguing on the Internet does so much more good for the country than political wrangling.
The United Auto Workers were pivotal in turning Indiana and Ohio for Obama. Those Democrats who are willing to flush the jobs not only of auto workers and those who depend on the 3 Detroit auto firms are risking a return of the Midwest to the Republican column. Can we find a compromise? Link fuel economy and cleaner emissions to a bailout package for example.
I hope Waxman gets the Chairmanship. He's always shown himself, through his actions, to be a progressive and a reformer.
On another note, I hope the results of this election will get the Republicans to take a good look at their party and get back to their roots: fiscal conservatism, small government, and less–rather than more-intervention in the affairs of other nations. I hope moderates will finally wrest control from the right-wingers and Chrisitian fundamentalists to whom they have given the keys of the kingdom. A few years of power have come at a great cost to the GOP.
Why do you insist on trying to make the peoples choice of electing Barack Obama a racial issue? Basically all of your interviews in regard to Barack Obama before and after the election are with african american people. I am caucasian and I voted for Barack Obama. Race was never an issue with my decision and obviously not for thousands of others. I agree this is a huge hurdle for the country. People of all race voted for Barack Obama.
Reporters were always questioning if race would be a factor in the election – who cares? Why does race have to come into play?
Please stop trying to make this into a racial election. Isn't that what we have been trying to get away from all of these years?
Dear Mr Waxman....
Get Cheney on the stand first.........
Accountability is going to be a cornerstone for the next admin.....
without it......everything is still hot air...
Do it Sir .....Return credibility to the executive branch and our Justice system......Show the American character that has the courage and determination of a soldier by vigilantly pushing for accountability, truth and justice at all levels.
Truth to Power
Yup Rep. Waxman is hard working and a friend of Pelosi. Dingell represents the auto industry but he is 82 and has seniority. Strom Thurmond was 100 but knew when to step down as committee chairman. Lots of old farts in our Congress make it difficult for Obama or anyone to get quality legislation enacted. Remember the rules are NOT in the constitution but are made by the party. Lets see if our poorly run Congress can actually enact real quality lasting change legislation or was this election all about fund raising and maintaining the status quo?
You two must be ashamed of yourselves.
Looks like the unity and "oneness" that Obama so eloquently spoke about was just another piece of bla bla bla. He will change Washington – really? When?????? Now this is the Democratic Party that the majority supported. What a bunch of dummys!
I also suspect that President Obama is going to be governing from the middle (that's what the Audacity of Hope is all about). That being the case, Chairman Dingell will do a better job at that than Congressman Waxman.
Replace the dinosaurs. Washington's support of giant, smog-spewing gas guzzlers is just another example of bad policy going hand in glove with bad business. I support replacing someone who is "conservative on energy" with a progressive. We need creative solutions: something a little more creative than invading an oil-rich nation or trashing Alaska. Dingell is a dinosaur.
I am from Michigan and Dingell isn't doing anything for our state. We are losing jobs, foreclosures are up and our economy sucks! He will not get another vote from me.
The American automobile industry is in hot water because of very bad business management by the corporate leadership, which comes down to short-term greed (gas-guzzling cars and extreme resistance to fuel efficiency plus exorbitant pay for failing executives) versus long-term planning (new, clean-energy technology). They don't need to be defended or bailed out – the decision-makers need to loose their jobs and their stock options and the WORKERS need the opportunity to get new jobs in the clean-energy economy. How will free markets ever work if those who made the BAD DECISIONS never suffer the consequences? We DO need to protect the workers somehow. Who is the best person to do this? That's who needs to be committee chairman!
Do any of you people have lives?
Barney Frank should be chairman of the committee, he knows a lot about gas.
Charlie Wrangle should chair the ethics committee.
As a Michigander, I support Henry Waxman for Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. We need new blood in both Energy and Commerce and the U. S. Auto Industry. Dingell can serve on the Committee but it is time to go to the back of the bench and let youth lead. We need new leadership at the Auto Companies as well.
This is the best shape the liberals have been in since Watergate and the Nixon resignation.
They could have done virtually anything then, but they spent so much time and effort trying to purge anyone who was even remotely moderate that they alienated those that might have been their allies in accomplishing their agenda.
Looks like Congressman Waxman is trying to lead them down that same road.
Ummmm.....In-Fighting Already? Guess Obama will have to start using all his "Pretty Words" on his own people. This just might be very entertaining to watch.
Good job "Dave, Houston, TX"
Thank you so much, comrade, for demonstrating what the new "Unity" and "Hope" in our country means... "fall in line or get thrown under the bus"
You will surely be nominated to Obama's new cabinet position: The Department of "Re-education". Where are you going to establish the the American Gulag?
Where do I apply for a green card to our new country: The State of Western EuroCubaZuela. Of course, I do risk public flogging for my "ignorant" disagreement with your policies.
Watch out "AJ", "Observing the Party in Control", "Truth Hurts", "gc" and "joe", Dave in Houston and his cronies are coming after you next...
Waxman is a pompous windbag with delusions of grandeur. In other words, he's perfect for the job!
Rather than build all of these Hybrid cars and trucks we need to look to flex fuel so we don't need oil from over seas and we don't need to trash Alaska. There are many different fuel sources to explore so lets do that, besides Gov. Palin is doing enough damage to Alaska without any drilling. FYI flex fuel is 85% cleaner than gas. And I get better mileage on Flex than gas.
This is sort of like giving written notice that you are interested in the job... the President and VP elect will be the one's to decide or push I suspect...
A republican today announced he wanted to take over house minority leadership... this formalities so that formal votes and the Pres and VP weigh in....
why is it so bad for someone to try and get a position they want? It's not like he called Dingel godless or a terrorist.
Get over it