Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Waxman and Dingell both handily lose Congressional beauty contests, but one will soon be very powerful

This is a small machination in the Democratic caucus that could be very meaningful to making some real progress in Washington. Henry Waxman (California) is trying to unseat long time Democratic juggernaut John Dingell (Michigan) for chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Dingell has held that Chair for quite a while.

As I understand it, this critical position is key in making sweeping changes on environmental issues. Dingell, who seems to be catching on to the climate crisis, has nonetheless been in ardent opposition to auto industry regulation (including seatbelts, airbags, and fuel efficieny). Beholden to Michigan auto workers/voters and well funded by the auto industry, he may continue to hold back progressive legislation. He has been called the "go to" guy for the auto lobby.

In a recent interview on Frontline called "Heat", Dingell denies these allegations.

All that being said, he's not an overall bad guy. He's pushed for regulation and health care in his own right. He's just been a dumb ass on auto regulation.

Waxman, on the other hand, is a bulldog on reform, from what I can see. I believe he has been sent on a secret mission from Pellosi and Reid to unseat (or at least scare) Dingell to help the Obama agenda.

Here's some Bloomberg reporting on it:

Click here to see an clip from the excellent "Heat" Go 2:40 in for the part on Dingell.

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