November 20th, 2008
12:00 PM ET
10 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. E.C.Coleman

    Waxman is OBSESSIVE. Not good news, at all.

    November 20, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  2. TonyS

    I am glad to see Dingell lose the chair of this committee. Dingell was an obstructionist who was protecting Detroit to the detriment of America.

    Now that the Democrats have gotten the moxie to blow up the seniority system, can Charlie Rangel be the next committee chair to go? Hopefully.

    November 20, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. independent

    Regime change 08, Godzilla knocked off king kong. Waxman rocks.
    Dingell is literally married to and in bed GM, there was no way he could push any meaningful environmental legislation.
    Great year to be a progressive. Thanks Nancy Pelosi, you must be smiling behind the scenes.

    November 20, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. Amir

    To be honest Rep. Waxman from my district, is one of the few real voices of "change." Waxman 2016! I am happy that the democrats did this, it is a true sign that they really are concerned about the future of this nation, and not the future of themselves as with the republicans.

    November 20, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. DonnieJ

    Dingell's done dangling

    November 20, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. Luke Brown, Charleston SC

    Henry Waxman = Brilliant

    This is real change we can believe in.

    November 20, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. Amir

    Waxman a disgrace? stalinist? the reason congress approval rating is so low is because most congressmen are more concerned about their own concerns or those of their parties, rather than those of the people. Its funny how republicans jump on the "communist" as soon as someone decides to do something for the good of the nation rather than themselves.

    November 20, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Rob

    TJ Johnson: "The liberals are about to screw over this great country — reduce us to European-style.".......SO...I guess the Bannana Republic style offered over the past 8 years is the way to go? Please what is the "european style"? or rather what do you THINK it is?

    November 20, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. BK

    Wow, what a shame. Waxman is a bag of hot air, and Dingell is a true statesman. I'm very disappointed in the incoming Democratic congress.

    November 20, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Matt

    Republicans playing the negative games like "this isn't change" with every single thing Obama has been doing is hypocritical (i.e., it isn't change to continue the nastiness that earned you your thumping on the 4th) and it is precisely why the republican Party's favorability rating continued to fall over the past month. If you think your blabber all over the internet and other public venues does not reflect on your party, think again. But hey, I say keep it up...I'd love to see the Republican Party basically Jim Jones themselves.

    November 20, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. Alice

    That is great news for anyone who cares about the environment. Maybe now Detroit will be forced to build more hybrid cars and less gas guzzlers.

    November 20, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Simmy

    As long as they are Dems, and they are working together and will enhance the new administration, I'm fine with it! Congrats!

    November 20, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. RKING

    TJ Johnson
    November 20th, 2008 2:02 pm ET

    The liberals are about to screw over this great country — reduce us to European-style
    -----–I guess you did not get the bulletin...We were already SCREWED. Where have you been in Europe for the last 8 years.

    November 20, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  14. Matt

    Wow, no bailout for the Big 3 and a new Chairman who is going to whoop their butts with emissions standards and requirements that they meet alternative fuel wonder the Republicans are reeling...Big Oil must be going out of its mind. Warning: Expect gas prices to go up very soon so Big Oil can subsidize the future "losses" it is going to suffer as we ween ourselves of their liquid crack.

    November 20, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  15. Texas Lady

    Well, I guess we'll all have to get new cars – even if we can't afford them. That is, unless you don't make enough money, then you'll be given a car and those with a good job and credit will be forced to pay for their own.

    I remember scoffing at the thought of $5.00/gal. gas. Why do I suspect that we'll all be longing for the days when gas was only $10.00/gal?

    And as for all those workers in the oil and gas industry, and the supporting industries – they'll get to see what it's like to be unemployed – because if the Dems get what they want (and there's no reason to believe that the farthest left agendas won't be pushed), no one will be able to afford to produce or support the oil and gas industry – except OPEC and Chavez.

    All Heil the new administration choices.

    November 20, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  16. Pat F

    @Patrick Story: Bravo, Comrade, spoken like a true Communist! Nationalize everything – look how great Medicare and Social Security work!


    November 20, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. Mary

    Why was Hillary or Schumer given chairmanship of Homeland Security instead of the TRAITOR (NOT DEMOCRAT) Lieberman?

    November 20, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. Gia in Los Angeles, CA

    More "Change We Need"! I think this is a good thing.

    November 20, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. RGB in MN

    Here comes the greenies, which are unneeded in this economy.

    November 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. RealityKing

    Progressive liberalism has now taken full control of the Democratic party.., the socialism of America is next.

    November 20, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  21. demwit

    DOW -164.63 -2.06%

    Closing in on 2000 points down since Obama's election. American inverstors are really getting insipered now ain't they..

    November 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  22. RealityKing

    Welcome back $4 gasoline..

    November 20, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  23. zenter

    Guys, guys guys, particularly matt. Its because of the lack of environmental standards that GM is getting spanked by Honda and Toyota. They have to catch up if they have a chance of staying a viable and profitable company. I believe we should give them the bridge loan of 25 billion, review their board and separate the wheat from the chaff. I don't think it would hurt GM to simply try to restructure through bankruptcy, then recieve the bridge loan if they need it afterwards. At any rate they'll probably have to wait till Obama takes office to settle the matter of a bridge loan. As for gas prices....they are not going to 10 a gallon anytime soon (Texas Lady.) Gas can't be 10 a gallon soon because the demand is too low since people learned how to conserve from the previous highs on oil. Oil consumtion is likely to decrease as the world market starts creating cars that are less and less oil dependent. As demand decreses, so will the prices. The momentum is on with green energy and thouh the progress to it is slow, it is clearly the wave of the future.

    November 20, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  24. Ken

    Hey Adam. Maybe you think Waxman's hearings resemble Stalin-style trials because of all the [R] fascists he brought up for public accountability. Of course your attempt to belittle Waxman shows you actually approved of the Bush and [R] culture of corruption, and didn't want anybody to stop them stealing the country blind. Like most rightwingers, in the end you don't have a drop of conservative blood in you. At the core people like you are just shrill partisan reactionaries.

    By the way, can you think? Congress was at 9% before the election because of the [R]s, not the [D]s — this past election PROVED that. Again, you neo-dimwits should try to evaluate the evidence right in front of your nose instead of looking to FoxNews to hand you your rightwing, dogma driven view of the world.

    And finally @ TJ Johnson: You have to be completely loopy to worry about how the [D]s MIGHT screw over the country, while it is an established fact that you [R]s have ALREADY screwed over this country. You are more willing to route for future failure in this country than to hold accountable the party that caused 8 years of established failure? Well, aren't you a true patriot. You must be one of those 'real Americans' that the vacuous Palin spoke of.

    The underbelly of America is here for all to see on these blogs.

    November 20, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  25. EW

    Amir – Newsflash: Democrats win majority in 2006 election....

    The problem in this country is that the people keep electing the same useless, corrupt, selfish liars to Congress. Did any of you read the story? These two combined have been in Congress for 87 years. Neither of these two have been in the real world for more than 30 years!

    We need term limits on ALL branches of government.

    November 20, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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