And that’s just what he wanted.
The California Democratic’s gamble to take the reins of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee chairmanship paid off today when the Democratic caucus voted 137-122 to replace existing Chairman John Dingell of Michigan with Waxman.
Dingell has chaired the energy committee since 1981, and Waxman’s challenge of a sitting same-party chairman struck many lawmakers as daring or even arrogrant, depending on who you talked to. Waxman argued that chairmanships should not be permanent institutions.
“Seniority is important, but it should not be a grant of property rights to be chairman for three decades or more,” Waxman said after the vote.
Under Waxman’s leadership, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee conducted scores of aggressive oversight hearings into controversial Bush administration activities, such as contracting fraud and waste, White House secrecy, and the breakdown of federal regulation and oversight of consumer products, the financial markets and industry polluters. Waxman especially singled out the growing number of sole-source federal contracts as a cause for concern. Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., is expected to succeed Waxman as the new House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman.