House Democrats have been dreading this day: the unavoidable vote between Henry Waxman and John Dingell to chair the Energy and Commerce Committee. Though Waxman is a savvy lawmaker and closer to much of the caucus on the key issue of climate change, the 82-year-old Dingell, Detroit's staunchest congressional booster, is the longest-serving member of the House. "I wish we did not have to make the choice between two extraordinary legislators,” one representative puts it politely.
Waxman won a preliminary Steering Committee vote yesterday 25-22. Dingell supporters say that the caucus as a whole, which is set to vote today, is more supportive of Dingell than the committee. “We’re in a much stronger position with the rank and file,” says a Pennsylvania congressman backing Dingell. Waxman supporters have kept mum.