ABC News’ Rick Klein, Dean Norland, and Jonathan Karl Report: House Democrats voted Thursday to put Rep. Henry Waxman in charge of the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a stinging rebuke to the House’s longest-serving member that could have wide implications for the Obama administration’s environmental agenda.
Waxman, D-Calif., defeated Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., in a 137-122 secret-ballot vote. Dingell has long been one of the auto industry’s biggest champions, and Waxman’s case to his colleagues was based in large part on his promise to push an agenda that aligns more closely with that of President-elect Barack Obama.
"The prevailing view in the caucus, and the argument we made, was that we needed a change for the committee to have the leadership that will work with this administration, and with members of both the House and the Senate, in order to get important issues passed in health care, in environmental protection, in energy policy," Waxman said. "We are at a unique moment in history. We have an opportunity that maybe only comes once in a generation and I think that the Democratic caucus agreed with me that we must meet that challenge and move forward on those important policies."
House leaders created a new post for Dingell — chairman emeritus. Dingell was first elected to Congress in 1955, and in February is set to become the longest-serving member in the history of the House of Representatives.