Blumenauer blogs the Waxman/Dingell showdown

Today, congressional Democrats decided to unseat Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) from his post as the chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee. In place of the longtime power player, they installed Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). The move was seen as a major shift toward a stronger environmental policy.

From the AP:

Democrats steered the House toward more aggressively tackling global warming and other environmental problems Thursday, toppling veteran Michigan Rep. John Dingell, a staunch supporter of Detroit automakers, from an important energy panel in favor of California liberal Rep. Henry Waxman.

The switch could help President-elect Barack Obama on Capitol Hill with one of his favored issues: trying to curb global warming by limiting greenhouse gas emissions. But Waxman's combative stance on climate change and other issues also could alienate Republicans and moderate Democrats, making it harder to get the bipartisan support Obama will need.

Waxman is an avid environmentalist and booster of health care programs — and a home-state ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He defeated Dingell on a 137-122 vote in the Democratic Party caucus, capping a bruising intraparty fight.

Over at Daily Kos, our own Congressman Blumenauer blogs:

Many members expressed passion and emotion on behalf of John Dingell and his long and distinguished career. There were also very specific concerns raised about his variance with House leadership and the Caucus, as well as the American people. The fact that the Democratic leadership had to work around the Committee last session on renewable portfolio standards and fuel efficiency was telling; everyone expects this to be a major focal point for the Obama Administration and next Congress. For me, the discussion was as noteworthy as the outcome.

I supported new Chairman Henry Waxman, who has developed his own reputation for tenacity and has done an excellent job chairing the Oversight Committee and exposing the excesses of the Bush administration’s troubled tenure. In his new position, he will be able to do even more to advance major initiatives on healthcare and global warming. While bold transformations will be difficult, change will come more quickly and more smoothly. The Committee will now be in the middle of the debate rather than be a wild card at best or an obstacle at worst.


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    Another example of how the House knows how to handle such matters.

    The seniority system seldom makes sense.

    Had this been the Senate does anyone think Rep. Dingell would have been replaced by a man who can help Congressman Blumenauer RENEW AND REBUILD AMERICA?

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    This is a HUGE victory for the environment! Thank you Congressman Blumenauer for supporting Waxman!

    A lot of people may think this is much ado about nothing, but I predict this will bring about a sea change in environmental policy.

    Now, with Waxman as chairman and Dingell sidelined, Congress will be able to actually make progress on climate legislation as well as auto emission standards, rather than simply treading water or making small incremental changes.

    With Waxman's victory today, the Democratic party is now a lot greener than it was yesterday - and finally more in sync with the environmental community.

    For more background on Waxman and how he represents such a huge change for the better compared to Dingell, see Harold Meyerson's editorial at the Post

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    But wait, there's more.

    Seniority isn't the exclusive province of the Senate when it comes to who chairs committees.

    These two articles show why lots of people are calling the Waxman defeat of Dingell for Charimanship of the powerful/influential (pick your descriptive) Committee on Energy and Commerce SEISMIC:

    And for even more esoterica there's this:

    Seismic indeed. And I don't think the shaking is over yet.

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    Perhaps Dingell should have started whining weeks ago about how he'd bolt the caucus if he was stripped of his key chair, and that it would be harsh, hyperpartisan retribution to do so.

    Or maybe the House heard the call for change, and the Senate are just a bunch of spineless pussies.

  • backbeat (unverified)

    Or maybe the House heard the call for change, and the Senate are just a bunch of spineless pussies.

    Ding ding ding we have a winner

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    Or maybe the House heard the call for change, and the Senate are just a bunch of spineless pussies.

    Can we find some other way to describe it instead of using female anatomy as a spineless, negative thing?

  • Greg D. (unverified)

    Boo Hoo. The old guy from General Motors err.. I meant Michigan .. no longer holds a life or death veto over environmental legislation. What a pity.

    Somebody can correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Mr. Dingell used his position to delay mandatory seat belt requirements in the 60s. A few thousand extra deaths meant nothing compared to profits for Detroit.

    Progress is progress, even if it is 30 years too late.

  • KTDM (unverified)
    <h2>I'm super glad about Waxman, but in the rush to celebrate this environmental victory, we should not forget that Dingell has been throughout his career a fantastic advocate for MOST environmental issues--particularly in relation to toxins, as he lives in a highly toxic state. He clearly made political choices that were very bad for the environment in supporting the car companies, but his legacy should also include some key environmental victories.</h2>
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