November 20th, 2008
12:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Waxman defeats Dingell for House Energy Chairmanship

Waxman defeated Dingell for a powerful committee post.
Waxman defeated Dingell for a powerful committee post.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - California Rep. Henry Waxman won the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday, defeating the longtime chairman, John Dingell of Michigan, in a secret ballot vote of the incoming Democratic caucus.

Waxman - first elected to the House in 1974 - defeated Dingell - first elected in 1955 - by a vote of 137 to 122. Dingell has served as the Energy and Commerce Committee's top Democrat for the past 28 years. Waxman was the committee's No. 2 ranking Democrat.

"It was a contentious race, and it was a close one as well," Waxmam said immediately following the vote. "I want to point out... that this in no way diminishes the enormous contribution to our country by Chairman John Dingell." Waxman, a top ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, argued that "we needed a change for the committee to have the leadership that will work with this administration... in order to get important issues passed in health care, environmental protection and energy policy."

Regarding Dingell's long tenure in the House and on the committee, Waxman said, "seniority is important, but it should not be a grant of property rights to be chairman for three decades or more."

Waxman's victory over Dingell is viewed as a victory for the more liberal wing of the House Democratic caucus. Dingell, the dean of the Michigan delegation, is fiercely protective of the interests of his home state's struggling automobile industry.

He is also often viewed as hostile to much of the Democratic party's environmental agenda. Waxman, on the other hand, is seen as a strong advocate of tougher environmental regulations.

"Chairman Waxman has been a longtime longtime leader on energy and environmental issues," Gene Karpinski, head of the progressive League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement following the vote.

"We look forward to working with the new Chairman... to promote the clean, renewable energy future that will repower, refuel, and rebuild America."

The Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to play a pivotal role in the consideration of President-elect Obama's ambitious legislative agenda next year. Climate change, energy independence, and health-care reform - all issues considered to be at or near the top of Obama's agenda - all fall under the purview of the committee.

While Obama did not publicly indicate a preference for the chairmanship of the committee, his chief legislative liaison, Phil Schiliro, is a former longtime aide to Waxman.

Dingell has agreed to serve as "Chairman Emeritus" of the committee - a ceremonial title created at Pelosi's suggestion to honor his long service on the committee.

Dingell was elected to his 27th full term earlier this month. He will become the longest serving House member in history in February.


Filed under: Henry Waxman
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Turn Texas BLUE

    I was actually thinking they would do worse! : ) i guess they have hope to.

    We understand that The democrats are not perfect, and either are the republican, but i Must admit the republicans basic views are getting old! Its not the name of the party that is dying, but soon the people of the party will to, They have yet to bring new and younger people to their party! Because Americans are getting smarter and we understand that thier views have not worked, are not working, and will not work. AND THAT alone will make them fade away into the dark!

    Personal advice!
    You need to rethink your policies, because if your Presidential Nominee Almost had to sell out your core Values to get a VOte!!! Then that is pretty BAD!!!

    November 20, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. Aliou

    lieberman gets to keep his post and someone else has to pay?

    what a world.!!!!!

    November 20, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Susan Canna

    Now, THAT'S change this progressive Democrat can believe in! Go, Henry, the "PitBull" of Congress!

    November 20, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. Sweetie

    And the March to the Left Begins!

    Don't miss a Step Comrade or you won't be considered "Left" enough!

    America is not ready for this, most of us are from the middle, and we don't want to become a Marxist Nation!

    God Bless us All!

    November 20, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Josh Maloney, Oakland, CA

    Henry Waxman is the perfect fit for this chairmanship. He is relentless and I admire his leadership ability.

    November 20, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. Charlie

    An excellent move on the part of the Democratic Party leadership to enable President elect Obama to keep his promise to American voters to change the way Washington does business.

    November 20, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. Barbara in NC

    Shake things up a little more – this is getting to be more and more fun – as poor as we are, we do enjoy some entertainment every now and then.

    November 20, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. hrsc

    Gods speed young man......Been there done that.

    November 20, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Pat F

    I don't want to hear any Democrats crying crocodile tears when the Big Three auto companies go out of business and the UAW looks around for someone to blame.

    Waxman and Pelosi will make the US completely uncompetitive worldwide, because China couldn't care less about air quality. They are building something like 2,500 new coal burning plants per year.

    November 20, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Aliou

    Colin Powel, John kerry for secretary of state.!!!!! Clinton? No!!!

    November 20, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Tom in Delaware

    Say hello to CAPS and good-bye to the Coal Industry in America.

    November 20, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Chris

    First elected in 1955!!?? That means Dingell has been in Congress for almost 1/4 of the entire history of the US.

    November 20, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. DebM, Allentown, PA

    When you think about this in terms of geography and habits, it makes a lot more sense to have an Energy Chairman from California, a state trying to be green, as opposed to a Michigan Senator tied to the Big 3.

    November 20, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. John, Virginia

    Congress wil cripple Obama!

    November 20, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. RMKING FL FOR OBAMA

    We need a clean sweep of all of those that have not produced any real reform or legislation.

    November 20, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  16. Scott NYC Independent

    Dingell obviously wasn't doing a good job because we are still dependent on Oil. I hope congress understands we the people are no longer going to let them keep their jobs if they don't perform to the standards we expect. American's are tired of the drama and games; its way past time to get to work and make progress. We expect it of President Obama, congress and the supreme court. The next four years must be about progression not degression.

    November 20, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. hugh ~ california

    Your GOP blog was only 23 minutes long–that's a real ticker. Before I could "cross all t's and dot all i's" it was too late to submit. Generally these blogs are about one hour long aren't they?

    November 20, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. Elaine

    Hey gop supporters! Do you know your history of the Democrats well did you know it was those damm liberals who brought you social security, medicare, medicaid, family leave act and those programs that help us, you the common folk, or are you super wealthy and getting all the perks from the crooks your own repub leaders. I imagine you're really just ignorant, sitting on your sofa with fox news running 24/ 7. Hey anyone would be screwed up if they were fed lies continually. Jeez what a sorry bunch of losers!

    November 20, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. Kel in Auburn, AL

    Finally! With a Dem in control of the Energy and Commerce Committee, we'll actually start to make progress on alternative and renewable energy sources that will drive our country by the end of this century.

    Republicans say that government doesn't work, then they get elected and prove it! I can't wait to see what a competent administration can do for our nation!

    November 20, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Waxman beat DIngell because Waxman's super powers are derived from the royal jelly of the bees which provide him his "Wax," whereas Dingell's limited powers are derived solely from large amounts of roughage.

    Bet you didn't know that!

    November 20, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. A.B.

    The Republicans can forget it for at least the next 16 years. HaHa! Mitt Romney thinks he can get it on fading good looks and no charisma? Fat chance. Besides, if Prez Elect Obama does a great job these next four years, guaranteed he'll do four more. I see the posturing has already begun. Would be interesting to see Mitt debate Sarah Palin though. Goerge Bush destroyed the Republican Party single handedly. Enough said.

    November 20, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. JackH

    Waxman is an incompetent fool. Similiar to Pelosi, it's the bong heads in the bay area that elect door knobs like Waxman.

    I though the Democrats wanted to bring about positive change, not an idiot like Waxman.

    November 20, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. Milhouse van Houten

    If Waxman can be as effective in his new post as he was making Roger Clemens look bad,hey,this might be a good move.

    November 20, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  24. Waxman Schmaxman

    Nostrilis is the ugliest man in congress.

    November 20, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  25. ProgressiveChange

    Good going Waxman is the right one for this .
    He has worked hard on behalf of the American People on these issues.

    November 20, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
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