November 5th, 2008
07:15 PM ET
12 years ago

Waxman working to oust Dingell

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Rep. Henry Waxman wants to be the next Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee."]
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
to succeed."

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.

Filed under: Democrats • Energy
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Sue in MI

    Can someone please oust Pelosi in the House? She is an insult to Democrats and the peace loving people of this nation who expected her to lead the impeachment movement, instead she has been complicit in torture and gone along with Bush every step of the way. She does not deserve to be Speaker any longer/

    November 5, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  2. gerri

    Waxman is great,he will get out the handcuffs and Orange jumpsuits for Bush and company.

    November 5, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  3. Richard Larson

    1. Reelect Dingell. Waxman is owned by the radical environmentalist lobby.
    2. Extend loan guarantees to the U.S. auto industry. All foreign manufacturers are subsidized by supportive home governments.
    3. Enact a 5 year hiatus on all new environmental / mileage standards to see if in fact there is a measureable difference in average airborne pollution nationwide.
    4. Enact laws limiting mandated environmental changes until specific non-automotive pollution emitters are limited to the carbon limits in force for automobiles and small trucks to current pollutants per million of ambient atmospheric air.
    5. Demand international compliance with basic pollution standards for at least 10 years before current automotive standards are considered for review and then only if there is viable "real world" proof that the added limitations are economically viable and will have a measurable impact on current pollution levels.

    November 5, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  4. ron from upstate NY

    dingall is" too old" and truely an impediment to progress and waxman , like shumer never saw a camera he didn't like.....God help you if you get in his way as he alignes himself for the perfect camera angle. waxman tells the truth when it only when it suits him and battered the drug industry for his own personal benefit where they were really hammered for his amusement and really without just's easy to criticize and see your own point of view and block out other ideas. both are narcissists and should retire and save the nation... we need "real people" that truely care not grandstanders, and lobbist's buddies and blowhards with power they know they are mis-using for their own benefit...PELOSI MAY LIKE WAXMAN, BUT WAXMAN LOVES WAXMAN.....HE'S BEEN THERE TOO LONG FOR OUR DEMOCRACY...YOU GOT TO ADMIT HE REALLY LOVES TO HEAR HIMSELF TALK...AND IGNORE HIS COLLEGUES...GET A JOB WILL YA!

    November 5, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  5. Mike from Chicago

    Detroit couldn't make money on low-margin economy cars. Consumers were buying gas-guzzlers and will again (not that I agree with that), so that's what they made. The problem is not just the execs, but the unions that keep the wages too high and skyrocketing health costs and pensions.

    November 5, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  6. Change? Suuuure.....

    Same old Democrats. These clowns are going to be hilarious to watch over the next couple of years. almost worth the confiscatory taxes I'll be asked to "contribute" to their cause.

    November 5, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  7. Penn Voter

    And so it starts, like a pack of hounds that having lost the scent of their prey, turn on themselves

    November 5, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  8. Chester

    Dingell protected the auto companies for decades against tougher fuel efficiency standards, and look where that's gotten us. Because of this and other bad business decisions, the auto companies are on the verge of bankruptcy. Dingell is complicit. He needs to go.

    November 5, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  9. mike

    New president most the legislature is the same. Legislature makes the lwas. so most the laws that are made will be the same. how does this change washington??

    November 5, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  10. Ann,

    Well, it didn't take long did it.....seems Waxman held a lot of investigations for the past two years from which nothing came to fruition other than a big waste of time, and now he wants the top spot that he thinks will get himself more recognition. It appears Democrats are no better than anyone else always looking out for their own political future as well, above the people??? Poor conveying of Obama's message less than 24 hours after he was elected. He could have at leasted waited til the dust settled before trying to promote himself.

    November 5, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  11. Tom

    If it was up to me "Change We Can Believe In" would mean every single incumbent on both sides of the isle would be gone and a completely new Congress would be sworn in in January 2009.

    November 5, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  12. Mark

    Both men are too old to being chairing a committee. They should let a younger, smarter person be chair. All they have done in the past is hold hearing, without any positive results or changes. They have not been effective for change.

    November 5, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  13. Mac

    The auto industry is in trouble because of unions. How can they compete with auto makers from other countries when we pay a flunkie $25/hr and give him a white collar pension.

    November 5, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  14. Scott

    Yep! In 2 short years when the dems shows the American people that they can't fix things than they will get the axe in the next election and the Republicans will gain the majority again. As it should be..if members of either party can't fix it than get out the hell out of the way for someone that can.

    Mean while, let's start some investigative hearings into the fannie-mae and freddie-mac debacle and see who was really at fault for the current finacial crisis.

    November 5, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  15. xargaw

    It's time to shake everything up. Waxman is one of the smartest, hardest working and courageous Congress people serving. Hopefully, some other strong DEMs will challenge Pelosi and Reid. Both have been weak and a disappointment to the Democratic base that has worked so hard to put Democrats in office. Obama is going to need people of extroidinary strength and courage. Dodd, Durbin, Feingold, Webb,McCaskill, in the Senate. Waserman-Schutz, Sanchez, Conyers, Waters, Edwards, Inslee, and others in the House.

    November 5, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  16. deb in Colo

    Time for Pres-elect Obama to knock some heads together.

    GROW UP!

    November 6, 2008 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  17. Rabbit851

    Ah, the beauty of it all. Pelosi, Reed and the fighting committee chairmen. Lots of excitement coming to town with "the change." I can see this bunch working together for the better future, as long as I do not want to work for a living because each hour more that I work is just more money that will be "spread around." Doesn't anyone want to live where they work hard, make more money and get ahead. If you do, how can you support "spreading the wealth around." You may be the next one that the "wealth is redistributed FROM.

    Kennebunk Maine – Waxman is NOT a Senator, I would think you would know at least that much before you commented.

    Let's hope that the Democrats in both houses of Congress get their act together before the new President takes office. He won a great battle and to have his party members keep the public opinion of Congress down to the high teens will ruin the chances of getting "Change" that was promised. It is not just the president's approval rating that counts but also Congress' and we have not seen it so low in decades. This is with the Democrats in control and Pelosi's promises of what she would accomplish as the Speaker of the House. Have we seen any results yet?

    November 6, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  18. geoffrey commons

    This is good news. Henry Waxman is one of the most articulate, affable, intelligent persons in Congress. I hope he wins.

    November 6, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  19. DonnieJ

    Dangle on, dirty Dingell!

    November 6, 2008 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
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