Henry Waxman should succeed John Dingell – even though the Congress usually rewards longevity over competence. Dingell has been a member of Congress since 1955, but things have changed since then, and Dingell hasn’t. Dingell is part of the reason you can rent a Ford in Europe that gets 45 mpg, and cannot rent a comparably fuel-efficient Ford in the US.
California Rep. Henry Waxman won backing from a key group of Democrats in his bid to unseat Michigan Rep. John Dingell as chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.
At stake is the direction of crucial legislation during a period of solid Democratic control of Congress. The committee’s mandate is broad, with oversight of everything from climate change to health care to telecommunications.
The Democrats’ Steering and Policy Committee, which helps allocate committee memberships and chairmanships, voted 25-22 Wednesday to nominate Mr. Waxman for the post. The full House Democratic membership will decide Thursday whether to heed the panel’s recommendation.
The starkest difference between the men may concern so-called greenhouse gases, which trap the sun’s heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Mr. Waxman favors stricter and faster regulation of such emissions than Mr. Dingell, who has been one of the auto industry’s staunchest allies in Congress. His ouster from the chairmanship would be a major setback for Detroit’s auto makers at a time when they are seeking assistance from Washington.
Of course, the chairman hasn’t yet been rewarded; I am sure Dingell has plenty of favors to call in among the Congress members who are about to vote. Let us hope that Waxman presents a better case to those same members. From my perspective, Waxman is better fit with President-elect Obama. Danny Davis, are you listening?