Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has unseated Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, defeating him by a 137-122 margin in a secret-ballot vote of the House Democratic Caucus on Thursday morning.
Jewish organizations were officially neutral on the chairmanship battle, but privately many preferred Waxman, the head of the unofficial House Jewish caucus, because of his more progressive views on energy independence issues. As chairman of the powerful committee, Waxman is expected to play a key role in shepherding energy and health-care legislation through the House over the next two years.
Dingell, 82, is close to the auto industry and in the past has held up legislation mandating U.S. automakers increase fuel-efficiency standards and dragged his feet on dealing with climate change.
UPDATE: United Jewish Communities is congratulating Waxman on winning the chairmanship. Here’s a statement from UJC vice president of public policy and Washington office director William Daroff:
Henry Waxman is a great friend of UJC and the Jewish Federation system. He is a tireless defender of those in need, and lives his life endeavoring to fulfill the Judaic requirement of tikkun olam (repairing the world). As an active member of the Los Angeles Jewish community, and a contributor to the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, he keenly understands the work of the federation system and our agencies. Chairman Waxman’s steady hand and deep intellect leading the Energy and Commerce Committee will be of critical importance during this crucial juncture in the great debates over public policy.