The Note: On Track, Off Track

"The next time a chairman decides to use his committee to advance the interests of his district while ignoring the interests of most of his colleagues, he might think twice," Pershing writes. "Lest anyone doubted who was in charge of House Democrats, today's vote provided a helpful reminder."

Dingell lost his gavel on the same day that Sen. Ted Stevens gave his last Senate speech: "Age and seniority gave way in Congress on Thursday, a transformational shift for an institution where tremendous power has traditionally been built on sheer longevity, accumulated and savored with the passage of years," Carl Hulse writes in The New York Times.

"It was not only Mr. Stevens, an Alaska Republican, and Mr. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, who found themselves treated like old bulls put out to pasture. Senator Robert C. Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat who turned 91 on Thursday and has amassed 56 years in Congress, had already voluntarily relinquished the chairmanship of his beloved Appropriations Committee before his colleagues could ease him out," Hulse writes. "The abrupt change in status for the three lawmakers sent this fact swirling around Capitol Hill: their combined age of 258 exceeds the age of the United States itself."

"My motto has been here: To hell with politics, just do what is right for Alaska," Stevens said in his final floor speech.

As for policy: "Mr. Waxman's victory ensures that the committee will move in a more liberal direction, especially on energy and climate change," The Wall Street Journal's Naftali Bendavid and Stephen Power report. "The California Democrat's ascent caused immediate consternation in the already-reeling automobile and coal industries."

Waxman's win "will put him at the center of efforts to advance President-elect Barack Obama's proposals to curb global warming, develop alternative fuels and expand health insurance coverage," Janet Hook and Richard Simon write for the Los Angeles Times. "Dingell's loss is a blow to the U.S. auto industry at a time when it says it needs additional federal help to avoid collapse. Some business interests worry that Waxman will steer the committee sharply to the left."

"Well, this was clearly a change year," Dingell said after his defeat.

Obama is pushing for a bit more change: "The elections aren't over," Obama says in a radio ad cut for the Georgia Senate run-off. "I want to urge you to turn out one more time and help elect Jim Martin to the United States Senate."

But not so much change: Can anyone explain why Joe Biden is still a United States senator from Delaware? (We're only accepting explanations that are not related to efforts to wire things so that Biden can choose his own long-term successor.)

"The Obama-Biden transition office refuses to explain or elaborate on why Biden feels it is appropriate to continue to serve in the Senate," per ABC News. "The lack of resolution has stoked speculation in Delaware and beyond that the only reason Joe Biden is still in office has everything to do with Beau Biden."

The latest on Attorney General Michael Mukasey: "Attorney General Michael Mukasey is 'conscious, conversant and alert' after collapsing during a speech in Washington Thursday evening, according to a Justice Department spokesman," per ABC's Pierre Thomas, Jan Crawford Greenburg, and Jason Ryan.

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