Waxman Topples Dingell; House Dems Go Greener
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.
The Energy and Commerce panel is one of the most important House committees, with sweeping jurisdiction over energy, the environment, consumer protection, telecommunications and health care programs such as Medicaid and the popular State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Dingell has been the top Democrat on the panel for 28 years and is an old-school supporter of Detroit’s carmakers and other big industries such as electric utilities. His bitter battles with Waxman over clean air issues date to the Reagan administration and were recently revived as Waxman complained that the committee has been too slow to address global warming.
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