Top Dems Grapple for Waxman’s Post

Eshoo and Pallone square off for top Energy and Commerce job.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Feb. 3, 2014, 9:18 a.m.

Two seni­or House Demo­crats an­nounced Monday that they both want their party’s top job on the power­ful House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee, set­ting up a show­down to re­place Rep. Henry Wax­man.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, who rep­res­ents much of Sil­ic­on Val­ley and is a close ally of House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, and Frank Pal­lone, a New Jer­sey Demo­crat who has fo­cused on en­vir­on­ment­al and health is­sues, both are gun­ning for the po­s­i­tion. Wax­man an­nounced last week that he will re­tire at the end of the term after 40 years in Con­gress.

Pal­lone, the more seni­or of the two law­makers, said he has be­gun call­ing his col­leagues about the job, while Eshoo said she has re­ceived the “en­cour­age­ment of mem­bers of the com­mit­tee and the caucus to seek this po­s­i­tion.”

In a state­ment, Eshoo said the pan­el, which handles a sweep­ing ar­ray of policy is­sues in­clud­ing tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions, en­ergy, and health care, is the “Com­mit­tee of the Fu­ture.”

“It is key to shap­ing Amer­ica’s fu­ture, just as my Sil­ic­on Val­ley con­gres­sion­al dis­trict is,” she said. 

She is cur­rently the rank­ing Demo­crat on the pan­el’s sub­com­mit­tee on Com­mu­nic­a­tions and Tech­no­logy, which over­sees the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion and deals with oth­er tech­no­logy is­sues.

She is close with tech­no­logy gi­ants in­clud­ing Google and Face­book, and a vo­cal sup­port­er of is­sues im­port­ant to them like net-neut­ral­ity reg­u­la­tions.

Pal­lone, a 13-term law­maker, has fo­cused heav­ily on en­vir­on­ment­al and en­ergy top­ics. He’s cur­rently the top Demo­crat on the pan­el’s health care sub­com­mit­tee.

Pal­lone is an ally of green groups who has long battled to pre­vent drilling off the At­lantic Coast, and has called for re­in­stat­ing a tax on oil and chem­ic­al com­pan­ies to help pay for Su­per­fund cleanups.

As­cend­ing to the com­mit­tee’s top slot would thrust Pal­lone in­to battle with Re­pub­lic­ans seek­ing to dis­mantle or greatly soften White House cli­mate-change policies, es­pe­cially planned car­bon-emis­sions lim­its for power plants.

In a state­ment, Pal­lone said Demo­crats should pick a “lead­er with strong re­la­tion­ships on both sides of the aisle.”

“Even in the of­ten di­vided cli­mate of the last sev­er­al years, I have worked to find com­mon ground with my col­leagues to get things done be­cause I be­lieve that our gov­ern­ment can still do good things that will help Amer­ic­ans and make our na­tion even stronger,” he said.

An­oth­er pos­sible can­did­ate for the post is Rep. John Din­gell, the longest serving mem­ber of Con­gress in his­tory and the former chair­man of the com­mit­tee who was ous­ted by Wax­man in 2008.

In a state­ment, Din­gell left the door open for a pos­sible run at his old job.

“I look for­ward to con­tinu­ing to give this thought­ful con­sid­er­a­tion, speak­ing with my col­leagues upon my re­turn, and from there I will find the ab­so­lute best ways in which I can serve the people of Michigan’s 12th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict,” he said.

Ben Ge­man con­trib­uted

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